Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Craft Fairs: Nonjuried or Juried

As the weather gets nice, more and more people like to get outside and go places. One place many like to attend is a craft fair. The craft fair season begins as the weather gets nicer and continues through the holiday season where it peaks before coming to a lull. Craft shows can be a great way to get you business name out there. However, you must be prepared well in advance by doing some market research, filling out applications and sending in your fees. If you never have been to a craft event as an exhibitor and may be thinking about doing one, then there is some things you need to know beforehand. So for the next couple of blogs, I thought some basic insight into types of craft fairs and some useful tips for a being successful exhibitor such as what to bring, display tips and ideas and a diy craft display tutorial would be beneficial to first time exhibitors. Today, I will concentrate on types of craft fairs.

Types of Craft Fairs
There are basically 2 types of craft fairs: non-juried and juried. 
You must apply with both types of craft fairs and pay an entry fee at the time of application. The fee is usually anywhere between $20.00 up to as much as $3500, depending of which type of event and how well established event is. All craft fairs have application deadlines, but some organizers may take last minute entries if there are spots available. 

Non-juried craft fairs are usually the easiest to get in and the cheapest. This may be an economical and great place to start vending if this is your first time as an exhibitor. However, your success depends on many variables. Usually non-juried events tend to be church or school related, fund raising events or even local community groups.  In addition, the promoters accept venders on a first come-first serve basis.  There isn't any selection committee therefore there could lots of venders have the same type of items that you may be selling as well as dealers of nonhandmade items. Advertising is also a concern as well as who is doing the orgainizing and promoting of the event. Some things to consider and ask the promoter of the event are the following:

1. How many years have the craft fair been held?
2. How many exhibitors do you allow?
3. What types of past exhibits that have been in this show that are regulars?
4. How well is the show advertised and where do you advertise?
5. How long have you been organizing and promoting the event?

If the promoter is well organized and can give good answers to all of your questions about the event, the results should positive and lucrative for all exhibitors. The key factor here is organization. One of best and probably the most important things you can do even before you apply for the event is to attend it as an observer. Take notes, find out who organizes it and ask vendors questions about the event. Then find out if the organizers do other events throughout the year. Most likely if the orgainzers do well at this event, there is a good chance that the other events will be equally as good and you can participate in the next one.

A juried event is usually a larger fair and made up of various artisans.  It is highly competitive and always involves a selection committee. A good juried event will only allow a certain amount of exhibits and only the best of each area. This committee decides who gets to exhibit depending on the portfolio that is summited at the time the application and fee are sent. The portfolio usually includes photos of your products and possibly booth appearance. When summiting photos, make sure they show orginality, craftmanship and uniqueness. Photos of your booth should demonstrate the design layout and presentation of products.  

Also note that the application fee is usually higher and that fee depends on the size of the booth space, the number of attendees, and the duration of the event. That being said, the profit margins should also be higher. It should also be noted that if you're accepted, that you still have to provide your own tables, carpets, lighting and chairs. The only requirement for the organizers is the space for the booth and perhaps the backdrops.

You may wonder if the higher fee is worth it. In one perspective the large crowds will do a couple of positive things for your business.
1. Larger crowds means there is a greater chance that your bank account will substancially increase.
2. There is potential for plenty of exposure for your business. 

So with this in mind, the old adage, "you get what you pay for" has  considerable meaning. 

Whether you decide to do a nonjuried or juried event, or even that one is better than another, the key is to be well prepared; do your research ahead of time, and choose your shows wisely. Make sure the event is suited to what you are exhibiting. Most of all have fun. Craft shows can be a very rewarding experience. 


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