Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Worst Craft Fair Experience Ever

So, I had my first huge show this past weekend. It was a 3day music festival called Forecastle Festival and by all rights it seemed everything was going to be awesome: great music, 17,000 attendees, awesome location, good weather. However, my experience quickly soured as the three days of the festival wore on. Here is my story ....

The night before the first day of the festival, we went to set up our booth and were told we didn't have a location assigned - our first warning sign. So we somewhat randomly chose a spot and set up right next to a huge fountain by the DJ stage. The next sour spot was a runin with a festival employee. My friend - who is not from the area and doesn't know how to navigate downtown Louisville - was waiting in his car for me to find a temporary booth watcher so that I could come park for him. The employee screamed at my friend to move his car, to which my friend asked if he could direct him to a place to park? The employee said "that's not my problem" and proceeded to actually call the cops up and continue screaming insults at us as I RAN out to the car to move it for my friend! The employee continued to creep around our booth the entire day, finding things to pick at us about (for example, my boyfriend didn't get a re-entry band - because he wasn't planning on leaving - and the employee sent an apologetic coworker over to reluctantly scold us. WTF?) As far as sales, traffic was slow at the spot I chose on the first day. I barely made 20 sale or so. But no matter, Fridays are always slower than Saturdays! I remained optimistic.

Saturday morning I showed up at 12pm to the sight of my entire tent flipped over, soaking wet, my booth dismanteled, and my inventory all over the ground. My first thought was back to the employee from the first day, but I have no proof of anything. Nothing was stolen, although my tent frame was bent and broken, many of the metal chains on my necklaces were rusted, my signs were all soaked through, and I lost about 2 hours moving my booth away from the water and towards a more protected area. No one assisted our move.
No one came to apologize for the loss of our booth (although many curious bystanders asked what happened, and a few volunteers informed us that they'd fished our tent out of the water earlier that morning, Christmas lights and all). I sent my boyfriend to buy us a new tent and pocketed the loss myself. A kindly security guard told me to ask the event staff to bring us the weights that were provided to every vendor. We asked 10 different staff members and were told repeatedly, "that's not my problem." I began to wonder what their problem WAS, exactly ... clearly it wasn't helping the vendors with anything! I did see several security guards smoking pot and harassing attendees, though.... hmmm. At any rate, we set back up for the day and tied our tent down to a streetlight and a bench for security. Unfortunately, we realized that day that this was a bad location. All of the vendors around us had picked up their tents and moved. It dawned on us that the music festival was focused much more on jam bands (who played at the other 2 stages) and not electronica. There was nobody at our booth for several hours, and thousands of people milling around the other 2 stages! We decided to move our booth one last time on the third day.

My devoted friend and I moved the booth all by ourselves in the 90 degree weather, up and down 2 flights of stairs, to the more populated area of the fair. We were EXHAUSTED. We asked for help from the staff but no one would lend us so much as a ride in a golf cart (altough the owner of the festival did run me over with some tiki torches and knock several of my items off the table with his golf cart....) The location we moved to was much better traffic and entertainment-wise, too bad we only had that benefit for one day! It was enough to help me finally make a little bit of profit after my expensive booth fee, though. At the end of the 3 days, we were exhausted (8am to 2am every single day, carrying heavy stuff and little relief from the heat!) but we had fun. All of my friends came to help out and I met some great people. I am very dissapointed in the disorganization of the staff, but as an attendee I'm sure I would've had an amazing time. Not sure I'll try to do this festival again in the future, though.

What are your awful show experiences?

17 comments:

Krazy Kate Designs said...

That has to be one of THE worst craft show experiences I've ever read. Hugs!

beadworkbyamanda said...

Bummer! I've had handfuls of bad experiences.

Great blog by the way! I <3 it!

Amanda

Bonzai Beadwear said...

that sounds like a nightmare! :(

Tizzalicious said...

Urgh, how unlucky :( Sorry to hear about all that!

Fraz said...

wow that is a really bad one! im confused about it do they let you keep your tent up overnight there? people in the u.k have to take them down at night or at least take the valuables out. is it different over there?

Fraz said...

p.d fraz is really strawberry anarchy !! on my boyfriends account hehe

Omg Lia said...

for this fair they had security guards and such and since it was a 3day festival they assured us we could leave our items overnight. Plus it would've been a huge hassle to pack up and unpack every day, even though I basically ended up having to anyway!

That Winsome Girl said...

Oh my gosh, that is terrible! I can't believe all the things you went through. The first night, when all your stuff got ruined, did any storms blow through? To me it sounds like you had a nasty rain storm and unless your tent was very heavily weighted down and had protective walls up, it would be a disaster zone. Most folks will recommend at least 40lbs of weight for each leg of her tent to insure it stays put. I suggest buying walls for your tent and making or buying some very heavy weights to use for your next overnight show. I am so sorry you had so much trouble! Were you able to at least make back your booth fee?

Fraz said...

god i would be so annoyed at the security guards maybe you can say to the festival you refuse to pay the stall fee as the security guards never did their job properly. what assholes. sorry it was such a bad experience someone once said to me that music festivals are not the best place to do craft shows because everyone just wants to see the music but at craft fairs everyone just wants to buy crafts! im gonna save up next year so i can do some in Edinburgh I hope i have better luck than you though so far mines haven't been successful and I have only had two.

Omg Lia said...

That Winsome Girl: I assume a storm must have blown through, but I couldn't see any other damage and the weather was nice! We heard from some people staying the night at the festival that my tent was seen up with the walls in tact at 8am. We didn't have any weights (b/c the event staff was useless) so the walls didn't help much unfortunately. I did manage to make my booth fee back, just barely!

Omg Lia said...

Fraz I will be trying to get my money back. Ordinarily I wouldn't bother but it was a huge fee for the size of my business and I'm so disappointed with the event.

Storm, The Psychotic Housewife said...

Yikes! That takes the cake for the worst show experience for sure! :(

liz said...

I'm a little late in commenting here, but I am totally SHOCKED by your post. I can't how unhelpful the staff was to you, or the fact that no one helped you move or clean up your ruined tent.

You should 1. try to get your money back (maybe through your credit card company - if you paid with a cc) and 2. try to file some sort of complaint against the festival through the city. or the BBB

Omg Lia said...

That's a good idea ... I paid with paypal, but it was over 60 days ago unfortunately. What is the BBB?

one4earth said...

you poor thing...that just sounds like a complete nightmare and the organizers were horrid!!!

John said...

That sucks your tent got in the water, but next time you should weight it down like all the other vendors. We had a small space atop the Belvedere and did great sales all weekend long. Organizers were great to work with, although security could be a little more helpful to us. Overall, it was a great experience that benefited us and pumped millions into the local economy. We'll be back next year, hopefully in the same spot.

Twin XL said...

Oh man, that is truly awful - the title is not an exaggeration by any means :(