Festival season in Ohio has begun.
Ohio has the good fortune to be saturated with fairs, festivals, and other events throughout the year, but spring is when things really start rockin’. I participated in my first event, the Jackson City Book Fair, in late March. The Missing Falls Brewery Spring Bazaar was my second.
Missing Falls Brewery is in Akron, near Cleveland in northeastern Ohio. I sampled their brown ale while participating as a vendor at their spring craft fair: it’s pretty good. That’s one advantage of going to privately held events like this: the opportunity to sample craft brews.
As ususal, I attended with my best friend, @Cindra Phillips, of C. R. Ranch Creative. She’s an artist. Around half the paintings we displayed (and offered for sale) at the event were hers.
The weather did not cooperate: chilly, raining, blustery. We found the location without any wrong turns; the drive from my place took about three hours. Upon finding an entrance with a ramp for carting all our stuff, we soon located our assigned table. Set-up took around 30 minutes. All vendors received warnings to “build UP” not “build OUT” their displays. Cindra and I pushed the boundaries by placing our display boxes filled with paintings in front of our table. They didn’t stick out too much, we thought.
The event opened at 12:00 p.m. The vendor room was filled; I only noticed one empty vendor table. Vendors filled the rooms and overflowed into the warehouse area. Our table was at the end of the row next to the women’s restroom. Any woman needing to use the facilities was forced to walk in front of our table, so that was good exposure.
Attendance was light. Cindra learned that the event was the brewery’s second; the first having been held in November 2022. The third will be held in November 2023. The brewery also reserved marketing efforts to social media. That was not unexpected. Vendors were asked to spread the news via their social networks. I didn’t know how many actually complied, but I know that I did. I couldn’t have said that my marketing efforts were in any way effective, but I hoped that perhaps a few people were intrigued enough to attend an event that they might not have otherwise known about.
Attendance dropped off around 3:00 p.m. and began picking up slightly about 5:00 p.m. During the “dead time,” vendors started preying on one another, trying ot sell to each other. It happens at most events during the lulls between busy-ness.
The upshot? I made enough in sales in books and paintings to recoup my hard costs: the vendor registration fee and lunch. Cindra recouped her lunch expense, but not her mileage. (IRS mileage reimbursement would have exceeded $350. I don’t ask Cindra about her expense claims, because they’re none of my business.) She did trade a painting for a bracelet offered by one of the jewelry vendors, but I’m not sure whether I’d call that a sale.
By the way, the pizza there is pretty darned good. We also appreciated having lunch delivered to our “booth” space.
With few potential customers wandering the aisles, a few vendors closed up shop and departed before 5:00 p.m. We waited until 5:30 p.m. before packing everything up. (The event officially concluded at 6:00 p.m.)
On the drive back, we discussed our impressions and whether we’d sign up for another such event and decided our sample size wasn’t large enough to decide against going back. So, we intend to register for the next Missing Falls Spring Bazaar in 2024 in the hope that the event will have gotten more recognition and better traction among the locals.
#henhousepublishing #festivalseason #craftfair #craftbrew