The summer of 1987 was a very wet one.
It was my very first Sunapee Fair and my very first show beyond two days. It was a 9 day show in a large tent (there were many large tents). I had been juryed into the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen the fall before and was able to secure a booth, but it was only the last 5 days, because spaces were limited and I was the newby.
You have to understand that I had attended this fair about ten years earlier and all the tents were green army tents. Now they were beautiful large white tents. So much had changed and I wanted to be a part of the fair. A part of the crafts movement, a working artist. It was a dream come true. I was excited. And nervous. Would they like my work? Would they buy my work? Would my booth be good enough? Would I be back next year? So many questions.
I spent many hours building my new booth.
I should say watching my husband build my new booth. I had planned it all out and he built it for me. I did paint it, and he helped. But I am an artist not a carpenter. Don did really good. I wanted lattice panels that were trimmed out with narrow boards, enough to go around the perimeter of a 10 x 10 booth. It took a few days, and a few more days to paint. And of course, they needed two coats of paint. Have you ever painted wooden lattice? My advice is don't. Plastic lattice was not available back then, so wood it was. Pressure treated wood. Rough barely sanded pressure treated wood. Heavy wood that sucked up the paint, and sucked up the paint, and you could still see the green. Lattice that needed to be painted on both sides in order to cover what you saw on the front. All those little edges. But I persevered.
Packing day came. We spent the day packing the truck and the trailer. We went to Mount Sunapee on Tuesday night to set up with Don by my side to help. No, that's wrong. I went to watch him set up, and I helped a little.
It had rained for all four days before I got there, I am sure.
My booth was in the middle of a very large tent. When the previous booth holder took down their booth, there was a giant mud hole. It was where my booth had to be. No options. Needless to say, Don set up as best he could, while I was holding the panels so he could screw them together, and level them up, in the mud. I was disappointed, but my friend kept saying it would be worth it. She had a booth right across from me. Actually the water off the tent roof ran through her booth and settled into mine.
She was not correct. My sales were weak, to say the least.
I watched people walk by, out there where it was dry, not wanting to venture down into my muddy booth. Five days in the mud and my sales did not cover my booth fee, let alone my traveling the hour and forty minutes each way each day. Or the materials for the booth. I had a few pieces that were soggy from the dampness and ruined as well. The upside was that I was riding down with my friend, so I was not driving alone. We shared the driving and the wet stories. And the pain of mud. And the success of selling a few pieces.
I did not want to even think about going back next year.
But she convinced me that next year I should go back but for all nine days because if the first weekend was wet, the second would even out the losses and vice versa. Since I was not the newby on the block the following year, I secured a nine day booth, sales were great, and I have been going back for nine days every year since that muddy one. This is the best show I had ever done (based on daily sales compared to my other shows and their daily sales.)
And now it is the only show I do.
The Craftmens Fair. Coming in August. Every year.
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Sandra J White
Quilling, the art of paper filigree, is my passion, since 1973.