The last time I participated in the Folklife festival it was 2001. That was a good year for shows. Pre- 9/11, when times were still pretty good. Nothing's been quite the same since -- shows either. I look back on those numbers and sigh.
Anyway, it's not that I haven't tried to get into Folklife. That was a fantastic show for me. The biggest amount of people and product and display, the longest days running, and the most money I'd made at a single show up to that point. So of course I tried to get in again the next year. But I was rejected. And the next year too, and the next. At some point I gave up. Rejection hurts and I felt jipped out of the jury fee I had to pay each time.
It helps to have someone you know, or someone who knows you or likes your product on the jury. I have no idea how it all works, but I know that in 2001 there was a couple who were very loyal customers of mine that were on the jury. They stopped by at another show to say that they put in a good word for me and hoped I made it. That was the year I did.
Last year I tried again. There was a new woman in charge and maybe change would be good for me. When I dropped off my products to be juried, there was such an overloaded table of soap and smelly stuff, a million other people's work already there. My heart sank, and while I hoped really hard the whole time, I was not surprised when I got the rejection letter again.
So this January I looked at the application and just about tossed it out, thinking "why bother?" But I realized there was no jury fee this time, and thought well, what do I have to lose? You can't get in if you don't try. So I trudged over. Maybe? Possibly?
And YES! I finally got accepted again this year. My friend Marissa who does such fabulous pottery stopped me at Best of the Northwest a couple of weeks ago to mention that she had been asked to be on the jury for Folklife this year. She said some very nice things and flattering stuff about me and my products. So again, it must be very important to have a pal on the jury, huh? I can't thank her enough. I'm sure there is more to it, and sales matter too since this is a commission show. But it certainly helps to have somebody on your side.
At least I get another crack at it - the elusive Folklife. And see if I can possibly come close to what I did before. I'm so much more experienced now. Wiser, more efficient, ready for all the little hassles. This is truly old hat now, and I can pack and prep shows in my sleep now. I won't need my whole family to look in on me, help me write receipts and trundle stuff over. I've got so many shows under my belt now, that nothing fazes me. Is that good? Maybe it's bad. I don't know. But I have had shows as big and bigger since then.
The one thing that will be hard to overcome in all this is my location. I could not have had a better spot in 2001. Right at the top of the walkway, near the fountain, with a gorgeous corner booth in the most well-travelled area of the whole fair. This time I'm in a little courtyard, a tad away from the beaten path. And it's not a corner either. But it's in the shade of some nice bushes, with a little open space behind it for breezes and friends to hang out in the guest chairs I brought. So it should be comfortable and pleasant, and I imagine that with 250,000 people there, at least a few will stop by :).
Snacks packed, cash box under arm, it's going to be the warmest and sunniest weather today - even if it's the slowest day. I'm off!