To say the least, my first year at the Three Rivers Arts Festival was certainly a memorable one!
I love exhibiting at shows because I meet so many wonderful people, and I look forward to helping them find the perfect piece of art.
However, in the past, I’ve always been hesitant to exhibit at the Arts Festival because of its history of stormy weather. I used to make the excuse of “that’s the time of year I’m painting,” which really was true. But for some crazy reason, I decided this year would be different, and I applied. I deliberately chose to exhibit the second weekend because it would be closer to July and (I hoped) the dryer months ahead.
Saturday started off great, but in the afternoon, my daughter Brittany and I experienced our first bad omen – our tent actually lifted with a wind gust. Which was something that never happened before, especially with our new $1200 tent! Luckily, two gentlemen I knew showed up just in time to help us get everything back in order.
Things were looking up that afternoon when a special guest dropped by. It was wonderful to see “Santa” (or at least the model for Santa!), who happened by just after I sold ““Shhhh!” paintings to two of my customers. He was gracious enough to personally sign them, adding a darling little heart under his name. He even stopped for a mini photo shoot!
Finally, the show was over, and it was time to pack up and head for home. I had just brought in all the bubble bags for the originals pastels and prints, and we were beginning to break down the displays and pack it all up… when it started to rain.
While we waited for authorization to bring in our van, we were hit with the first serious gust of wind and hard rain. We tried to hold down the tent with all our might; I think this may have been the moment I sprained my foot. The lights fell on my pregnant daughter, and part of the roof was torn off, drenching my paintings.
I ran to the garage to get my van and begged the attendant to let me out as fast as possible. By the time I got back to our tent, it was gone – lost to another tremendous gust of wind. It was ripped right out of their hands, even though Tom was standing on the stabilizer bars! Everything and everyone was soaked. The tent was so badly mutilated it took seven of us to pull it apart.
We always knew something like this could happen someday. It’s the worst fear for a vendor at an outdoor show. But we’re so grateful for everyone who pitched in to help us during this disaster.
Fortunately, my foot is only sprained, and I’ll only be hobbling around for a little while. Today I ordered a new tent, and most of my art is drying out with the help of fans and a dehumidifier. I like to think that there is somehow a blessing in every bad experience – for us, it was the love and support of family and friends, pulling together to let us know we are never alone.
For now, I’m going back to work in my studio for a while, though in two weeks I’ll be venturing outdoors again for the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival. Check my calendar for more details.
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