The best way to choose a show is to scope it out before committing to do it. Go to the show and observe, and ask lots of questions. If you can't attend the show prior to applying, ask the promoter for names and numbers of a few of exhibitors that have done the show before and are returning. Ask the promoter if you can get on their mailing list. Once on the list you can request an application and any rules or guidelines available. If you don't find the answers you are looking for, don't hesitate to make a call to the promoter. Here is a list of questions that you may want the answers to prior to doing a show. Don't feel like you need to know all the answers to all these questions, but the more informed you can be about the show, the better idea you will have about how it will be for you. When you do decide to do a show site unseen, try to make observations and find answers to these questions as you go. Many of the answers to these questions will also help you evaluate a show that you have done and will help you decide if it is worth doing again next year.
General Show Questions
~What is the style of the show? (country, contemporary, traditional, etc.)
~What time does the show start and end?
~How early can we be there to set up?
~Is there air conditioning?
~Is the show outdoors - rain or shine?
~Do you have attendance figures?
~Is there an admission charged to the public?
~Is there plenty of customer parking?
~Is the show held in conjunction with another activity, or is it solely an arts/crafts show?
~Are there food concessions?
~ Is there entertainment? What kind?
~How many applications were received last year?
~How many of them are crafters? 2D artists?
~Is this a juried show? First come, first-served show? Invitation only show?
~If this is a juried show, who views the applications, photos, and slides?
~Who makes up the jury?
~Is there a jury fee? How much?
~Is there an application fee? How much?
~Is there a minimum jury score requirement/cutoff to be accepted for the show?
~When are selections made?
~How many exhibitors from last year are allowed back?
~How many new applicants are accepted?
~Is there a tenure option or an option to return to the show next year?
~When will exhibitors be notified of acceptance?
~Are there any cancellation penalties or rules?
~Is there a membership requirement?
~Are spaces filled by category?
~Is there a limit of number of vendors per category?
~Will you provide a list of exhibitors for reference?
~How many vendors are in attendance?
~What is the size of the booth?
~Is there a variety of booth sizes?
~What is the price of the booth space?
~Is electricity available - for a fee?
~Is there a fee for parking?
~How accessible is parking?
~Is parking different for during the show, breakdown/set up, overnight?
~Is carpet rental available? What's the fee?
~Is there a program advertising fee?
~Are tables and/or chairs available, and is there a fee for them?
~Is extra space or a double space available?
~Are demonstrations allowed?
~Is additional space or discounts provided for demonstrations?
~What is the recommended price range for art/craft-work in this show?
~Is the crafter expected to donate a door prize or raffle item?
~Are there any special costume requirements?
~What hotel/accommodations are nearby?
~What is your policy about non handcrafted merchandise?
~Are imports, buy/sell or commercial merchandise allowed?
~What is your policy for inclement weather if the show is outdoors?
~What kind of security is there if it is a two or more day show?
~Are there any insurance requirements?
~How and where is the show advertised? (The number of customers will be directly related to this!)
~How frequently and for how long has the show been advertised?
~How comprehensive is the advertising coverage?
~How many years has this show been in existence?
~How many years has this show been in this location?
~How many people generally attend? (Last year's attendance)
~How many people do you expect to attend this year?
~Are promotional tools - invitations, postcards, flyers, etc provided to exhibitors?
~What are the demographics of the customers?
Questions To Ask Those Who Have Done the Show
~What art/crafts/products are selling?
~Is attendance up to expectation?
~How is the set up - is the traffic flow good when crowded?
~What is the quality of the crafts in the show?
Article by Susan West of sunshineglassworks.com. Reprinted with permission from Susan West. Article is copyrighted and cannot be reprinted without permission from the author.