(I started this post months ago… Now it is finally finished.)
I made it through my third Middlebury Fall Festival.
This year it took place on September 18 and 19. I got to take a day off school which was okay considering I didn’t have to do any sub plans. After school on Thursday I loaded up my shelves, wheel and some pots in the Element. My grandparents had also come down so I loaded up their car with pots and supplies. We hauled the stuff over to Middlebury and they helped me unload. I set up the tables and shelves and moved things around to get an idea about how I wanted to set up my space.
I returned home and my wife helped me get prices on more of my pots. I wedged and weighed probably 25 lbs of clay to be ready for the all-day wheel demo.
Friday morning I woke up early to a thunderstorm. It was a bummer of a morning because I had to load up my mom’s truck in the rain but the forecast said it would clear up. I also ran into another problem when my wheel shelf wouldn’t fit into the truck. The covered bed wasn’t tall enough. My grandpa saved the day when he picked it up and drove it over to the festival. It didn’t fit in his vehicle either but he tied the rear door shut.
I got my electrical connected, wheel set up, shelves in the right place and pots set up. There were a few visitors at the beginning. I didn’t start demonstrating right away until I had someone come to run the sales booth.
There were less festival goers than the previous year, probably due to the wet conditions. I even had a few breaks throughout the day where I didn’t have someone watching me work. That was kind of nice but of course it wasn’t as nice for the bottom line.
If I remember right, the sun came out for a while on Friday. By the end of the day though, the clouds rolled back in. We got to our cars just in time. During the drive home it rained so hard I could hardly see.
I wedged some more clay for Saturday and tried to relax and then went to bed. I woke up Saturday to more rain. I grabbed my clay and a few more things and set off for Middlebury. I was by myself for a little while while everyone went to Quin’s ballet class. My mom came to sell the pots after that was over. The rain stopped for most of the day but it was still cloudy. There was a decent turnout considering the weather.
I demonstrated a bunch of cups with different textures and alterations. I also made some bowls, a few mugs and a couple pitchers. Sometimes I let kids decide what I should make next. During a slower stretch one girl even suggested I make a piggy bank. I had never made one but it has been on my list of things to try. It turned out okay for making it on the spot but it wasn’t worth keeping. I’ve toyed with the idea of adding some more texture to my work, inspired by Eric Botbyl and others. I love his scraggly pots. The festival gave me some “free time” to test some ideas with some mixed results.
Even though I didn’t sell as many pots as last year, I feel like I made a bigger impact as far as networking or future sales. Two people, one being a shop owner, requested that I try some hand-warmer mugs. I got an email a few days later looking for the Lions mug I had for sale. I also had about 6 people sign up to be on my email list. And I gave away plenty of business cards.
I had a lot of help this year. My wife didn’t get to come to the festival for very long because she was at home taking care of the baby. My grandparents and mom took shifts taking money while I was demonstrating. My mom got to help me pack up at the end and then drive through a monsoon on the way home. I couldn’t have done it without them and it was nice to spend some time with them.
It was good to see some friends, eat a bunch of festival food and get to share the process with other people. I look forward to next year. Come check it out if you are near Middlebury!