Although I've been lucky enough to be accepted to exhibit at a number of big fairs around the country, this one was a whole new experience for us, because it not only involved towing a trailor for 7 hours, but also involved our first ever family camping trip.
The Contemporary Craft Festival isn't like other fairs. Usually setting up at a big fair is pretty stressful, with time slots and limited parking and no children on site (which is complicated when it takes both Jim and I to build a stand). But this set up was pretty easy and relaxed. Particularly as we were able to send the girls off to run wild, while we got on with the fun of building the stand.
I have to admit that I don't do a lot of prep when it comes to designing my stands these days. Jim and I work really well together and because I use the same basic concepts for each stand, we can play it by ear. As long as I have somewhere to hang the bibs, hang the clothes and display the cushions I'm pretty flexible and the use of Roddy & Gingers wonderful wallpaper always helps to create a consistant identity.
The show lasts three days (plus the preview night) so Jim and the girls had to keep themselves busy while I was working. Before we arrived at Bovey, we had intended for Jim to take the girls out and about, exploring that part of Devon. But as soon as we got there we realised that there was going to be plenty for the girls to do without leaving the festival itself!
Jim and the girls spent the days out in the sunshine, climbing trees (there was the best climbing tree), screen printing bags, learning to weave on a loom, writing stories and eating icecream. And every now and then they would show up on my stand, with food or a glass of wine (it's hard work!), show me what they had made and then disappear again.
I always enjoy exhibiting. After spending so much time working alone in my studio, it's great to spend time with so many other designers, especially at such an amazingly curated show. But this show was even more fun than most. Not only was I surrounded by lovely, talented people, but the whole atmosphere was one of fun and community. And the fact that so many of the exhibitors camped on a site provided by the organisers, helped create a truly friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
And as well as there being so many super talented exhibitors (Kirsty Elson, Teresa Green, CoucouManou, Katrin Moye, and Sarah Heaton, to name just a few), the fair was also full of people that so obviously appreciated the level of talent on show, and were not only there to enjoy everything on offer but also (and most importantly) to buy.
We all had a fantastic time over the weekend. The incredible weather definitely helped of course, but it was really the fact that the fair was so well organised and full of so many amazing designer/makers, with so much for the girls to do (and fantastic pizza for Jim!), that really made it stand out. We were lucky enough to be able to combine a very successful weekend with a great family camping holiday.
If you have the chance next year to visit The Contemporary Craft Fesitval, I really can not recommend it highly enough. I don't think anyone could be disappointed with it (except possibly the elderly woman who asked me if anyone at the show was selling windbreakers!).