When I was growing up my grandparents had a booth at the War Eagle Mill craft fair here in NW Arkansas. Grandpa was a cabinet maker and sold beautiful cedar chests, quilt racks, spice cabinets, rocking horses... to name a few. Grandma painted many of the things he made with her incredible tole painting. Both of them were primarily self-taught artists, but their talent was such that they shipped their items all over the world to people who bought them at the fair.
Lately, I've watched a trend that I'm not happy with at the craft shows I've attended. There are booths full of items that are NOT handmade, and sometimes, not even crafts or art of any kind. This was the case last weekend at the Spanker Creek Farms show that my sister, mom and I participated in as vendors.
I could probably count on one hand - MAYBE two - the number of vendors who actually made the items they were selling themselves. Now, granted, the application for this show did not require that the items be handmade. But they did say they didn't want the booths to look like flea market booths. So, that specification makes me wonder why there were vendors at the fair selling SUNGLASSES!!?? Or - my personal favorite - 400 count "Egyptian Cotton" sheet sets. In plastic zipper bags. What the....???
I mean, I've come to terms with the people who sell relishes and soup mixes, and the ones who buy canvas bags and tee shirts and use their pricey machines to sew monograms and cute little sayings on them... but sheets and sunglasses were pushing my buttons. There was a woman across from us who was hand-lettering wooden signs to be hung over your tiki bar or on the outhouse door, but at least she was putting paint on something, even if she didn't make the signs herself!
Needless to say, the crowd was horrible, and our sales followed... we won't go back there next year, even to shop. Am I wrong to fantasize about arts and crafts fairs that ARE what they SAY they are??? Come on! We have to get back to honoring the roots of our craft... pass these swap meets up and seek out the legitimate handmade fairs - it will be worth it.