Last year, my calendar was jam-packed with events. I hardly had a weekend free from May through November. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, but exhausting.

Each year imparts lessons learned. As I get older, I realize I can’t do or endure what I did even five or 10 years ago. This getting old stuff ain’t for sissies!

One of the lessons learned was to track expenses, revenue, and mileage for each event. I track my “hard” expenses: the vendor registration fee, expenditures for food and beverages, hotel accommodations, etc. I do keep a record of money spent on inventory and other stuff (e.g., table signs, table coverings), but those are categorized as other costs. I don’t keep track of how many copies of which books I sell at each event, although I probably should.

Mileage is a different category of expense. I track mileage when I’m driving. As I go to most events with my best friend, artist Cindra Phillips and she has the larger vehicle (i.e., more cargo room), she does most of the driving. When we take her car, she’s responsible for tracking mileage.

I don’t count hours either. If I assign an arbitrary rate to my hours, anywhere from minimum wage ($10.45 per hour) to my freelance contract rate ($65 per hour), then I’m definitely not going to show any sort of profit for any event.

This year, I’ve scheduled fewer events. I’m participating as a vendor at some new-to-me events and returning to other events that have proven profitable without being onerous. I did go to one show last year that was profitable, but the hours were grueling.

The more experience I get at doing shows, the more particular I become when it comes to deciding to register. If an event is a first-time occurrence, meaning it’s never been held before, and doesn’t do particularly well, I’ll generally give it a second chance. I did that with Lust in the City. Its inaugural show in East Lansing, Michigan suffered from some unfortunate circumstances, so I registered for the second one in Owosso, Michigan. Although the organizer did a wonderful job in arranging everything and promoting the event, I failed to cover my hard costs. That made it a no-go for any subsequent years.

Another return trial is Art on the Hill in Mantua, Ohio. For the second time in its 11-year duration, we had rain. Because books and paintings don’t hold up well to wet weather, Cindra and I left early. However, we both thought the event deserved a second chance, so we’re going back this year. We’ll keep a close eye on the weather and bring her canopy just in case. (Her canopy has sides; mine doesn’t.) We’ll need to sell a lot of paintings as well as books to make this one profitable. Fingers are crossed.

I haven’t yet registered for any of the Beech Grove Artist Collective’s First Friday Art Walks in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. Event registrations open three months prior to each scheduled date, so there’s nothing yet available for registration after June—and that weekend in June is already scheduled. Cindra and I enjoy the BGAC Art Walks. They’re generally profitable because registration has been free and we bunk down at my brother’s house for the night. (It’s great to have family upon whom we can impose.) We really enjoy patronizing the 5th Avenue Grill; they have a good selection of local craft brews and good food.

This year’s show season kicks off in Urbana, Ohio on Saturday, April 6. The Urbana Chamber of Commerce is hosting a monthly “Second Saturday” street fair, although the city’s attempting to capitalize on the solar eclipse by scheduling the first event of the year right on the first Saturday of April. The forecast shows chilly weather and a stiff breeze. We’ll layer-up to keep warm.

Our next show is Art on Vine, hosted by Rhingeist Brewery in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday, April 14. Our first foray to Art on Vine introduced us to a well-heeled and eclectice crowd. A second registration took us to Washington Park for an outdoor event; that didn’t turn out nearly as well as the first. We’ll see what happens this time and reserve judgment until afterward as to whether we’ll return a fourth time.

At the Springfield Antique Show & Extravaganza in 2023, the vendor next to us imparted some wisdom. He stated that it was the event organizer’s responsibility to bring in the crowds and his responsibility to sell his products to attendees. I thought he had a good point.

So, if you’re out and about, check my calendar of events. I enjoy going to craft shows, arts and music festivals, and book-oriented events, so if you come across one that looks like a good venue, send me a message with the event information. I’m willing to travel to Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, and maybe even Pennsylvania.

If you attend an event where I’m participating, stop by my booth and say hello! A friendly face is always welcome.