America’s Premier Art & Craft Show Magazine

Show Review Archives > 2007 > NOVEMBER

August 18-19, American Founders Bank Woodland Art Fair, Lexington, KY

August 18-19, American Founders Bank Woodland Art Fair, Lexington. Contact: Joe Artz, Lexington Art League and LFUCG Parks & Recreation, 209 Castlewood Drive, Lexington, KY 40505; phone 859-254-7024, fax 859-254-7215. E-mail: Web site: Application fee: $25. Space fee: $200-$550. Space size: 10x10 to 10x20. 100% outdoors. Exhibitors: 200 (minimum of 50 from Kentucky). Attendance: 60,000 (2006 staff estimate).

By Donna Wilson
Florida & National Reporter
Medium: Paper collage

This was my first time exhibiting at this show, and anyone who knows me or reads my reviews should know I'm the "detail queen." Before exhibiting here, I did all my homework, read reviews, spoke with other exhibitors in several mediums and noted that the show made the 200 Best. As August tends to be a lean month for many of us, I felt that this show could be a good way to generate some much-needed income.

The committee arranged a very reasonable discounted hotel rate of $79 at the local four-star Radisson. It's a great hotel, and I highly recommend it and its nice, reasonable restaurant also.

Day-before setup was provided, along with very convenient, on-site exhibitor parking. Plus, setup/teardown couldn't have been easier: You were able to pull right up to your booth location. All spaces had generous backs, and if you hugged your one neighbor, you could use the other sidewall.

Held in a local park, the show's layout allowed an easy-to-follow traffic pattern. I was actually able to walk the show twice and found the caliber of work excellent, with nothing whatsoever questionable. And to top it off, the weather was perfect: in the mid-70s with no rain in sight.

An awards breakfast was served on Sunday morning at the Radisson Hotel (another reason to stay there). Speeches were short, and better-than-average prize money was awarded. However, one exhibitor won two awards, something some (including myself) felt was a disservice to other artists.

Crowds were excellent on both days, although Saturday was definitely stronger for most. I was able to speak to quite a few exhibitors, and the story appeared to be the same for most: They either did extremely well or very poorly with very, very little in between. A returning glass artist, who admitted he was extremely pleased with his totals, felt (and I quote), "People in the South, especially the Deep South, like to see you several times before they purchase. "¦ They don't tend to have that 'want to have it first' type attitude that you may see in other areas of the country."

I would agree. Many patrons said to me, "Oh, you are new this year? Love the work. Maybe I'll buy next year." Translation: My brother-in-law, Joe, and I did in the very poor category, barely making expenses. I understand the need to build a following, but it can be a costly endeavor.

To be fair to the committee, I can't come up with any constructive criticisms. They did everything right: beautiful setting, terrific-caliber work, great artist treatment (water delivered twice a day, both days). And they certainly brought out the crowds.

This show will probably still maintain its ranking in the 200 Best, as those who did well did very well. I would try to tie it in with something else and definitely speak to someone in your specific medium. If you do other shows in the area (St. James Court in Louisville, for instance), use a mailing list. Overall, this was a very easy, enjoyable show to do. Although I probably won't return, others definitely put this event on their must-do list. Remember, do your homework.

Editor's note: Two words dominated our auditor's comments this year: layout and weather. Both received raves, and all 10 artists who sent in FastAudits said they would be back.

"Loved the new layout - much more spacious for customers," said a wood artist ($1,300 total sales/$43 average item sold.)

"A much better layout and perfect weather on Saturday contributed in part to higher sales than last year," said a fine jeweler ($4,600/$200). "It seemed most exhibitors were having a good show. Staff was very visible, always looking to help."

A photographer ($6,300/$90) was even happier. "Despite rain and poor/confusing layout of 2006, I had a great show then," the artist said. "This year was even better! [The show experienced] weather [in the] mid-80s with nice breeze Saturday, hot/humid [weather] on Sunday but with welcomed cloud covering [and] enthusiastic, spending crowds both days. This year's layout eliminated previous years' congestion in certain areas and guaranteed no booths facing each other."

Only one auditor, a metal artist with a total of $4,000, rated sales below average. He/she would return but complained about the quality and said, "Most exhibitors I spoke with expressed disappointment in sales. My sales were 50 percent of my average show."

(For a different perspective on this show, see the following report.)

August 18-19, American Founders Bank Woodland Art Fair, Lexington. Contact: Joe Artz, Lexington Art League and LFUCG Parks & Recreation, 209 Castlewood Drive, Lexington, KY 40505; phone 859-254-7024, fax 859-254-7215. E-mail: Web site: Application fee: $25. Space fee: $200-$550. Space size: 10x10 to 10x20. 100% outdoors. Exhibitors: 200 (minimum of 50 from Kentucky). Attendance: 60,000 (2006 staff estimate).

By Julie Kelly
Minnesota Reporter
Medium: Mixed media glass-and-copper birdfeeders

Artists raved about the new booth layout at this fine art and fine craft show. Ample space and storage plus an organized load-in and easy load-out also made for happy artists. The committee and volunteers did an excellent job of working with exhibitors to ensure their selling success.

A painter reported, "I sold several high-end originals and had a great show. This is one of the best-run shows I've ever done. I am never at loss for water or volunteer help. The committee is great!"

Another painter was down but said, "All of my shows have been down this year. The down housing market has really affected sales of originals."

A drawing artist sold smaller items and thought shows would be better after the 2008 presidential election. A ceramic artist was pleased with sales of more than 10 times the booth fee, with an average sale of $150. A silversmith sold 10 times the space fee, praised the quality of the show and had developed a following at Woodland. A fiber artist who made 10 times the fee on average sales of $56 was happy with her repeat customers. And a photographer with a double booth didn't sell 10 times the fee but would probably try again anyway.

A wood artist reported, "I had a pretty good show. My average sale was $30, but I also sold $250 pieces." Another woodworker sold 10 times the space fee on $50-average sales, with some $300 transactions.

One 3-D mixed media artist ($50 average) was happy with sales. Another had sales of 15 times the booth fee, with a $115 average. The latter credited sales to repeat customers from a good mailing list and the great weather. And two glass artists were also pleased, having made 10 times the booth fee.

An enamel artist said, "My show is up - I'm moving big pieces."

One jeweler did not send out e-mails or postcards - "Who has time for that!" the artist remarked - and was down from last year. Another jeweler ($200 average, $600 high) stated, "Our mailing list really works. We believe in it."

E-mails were the way a metal artist invited local customers to see him at the show. "Yesterday was terrific! I sold big," the artist said. With an average sale of $1,000 and a profit of almost 20 times the booth fee, this artist was hoping to return next year. Another metal artist shared, "They [the Lexington Art League] just knock themselves out to make people happy. They are very artist friendly." The latter exhibitor had to cut my interview short to wrap up a $1,400 piece a customer had decided to buy.

Allison Kaiser, the director of the Lexington Art League, praised the many volunteers and art-show coordinators Joe Artz, Patrick Kelley and Bill Nichols. Many artists also told me how helpful these people were.

Each artist's happiness and success is important to the Lexington Art League. "We want to continue to add to the quality of the show and strive to increase artist and patron enjoyment of the show," Kaiser said. Areas she would like to improve are customer parking, shuttle service and food.

In regards to this year's totally new layout, Kaiser confided, "We knew we were taking a risk with the new show layout. But it worked so well. Artists were so happy. Setup and takedown went well. Customers commented that it was much easier to see all of the booths this year. They also liked the added roominess and not being pushed along by the crowds."

The show dates for 2008 will be August 16 and 17.

Sunshine Artist

Recent Reviews

May: HK
April: hh
January: add
January: HOK
January: HKCO