The Elmwood Ave. Art Fest takes place along Elmwood Ave, in Buffalo, NY. The neighborhood is beautiful, with lovely old homes mixed with trendy little shops. Just 2 blocks away, the neighborhood seems to change dramatically, with lots of bars on the windows and not just a little graffiti. Still, when we arrived Fri. afternoon, my husband and I both remarked on how many kids were out playing, and how almost every porch had neighbors sitting and visiting.
I love this show. It is always one of my best. This year it is the last of 3 shows I have done right in a row. Doesn’t seem like much, but it takes a day to get ready and packed for a show, and a full day to recover from it. We usually get to the show a day early, and set up the day before when possible. So all in all, it doesn’t leave much free time.
So by the time this show swung around, I was already pretty worn out already. The day before we were to leave, my husband and all around setup guy, sprained his ankle. Now if this was a show where you could set up the day before, this wouldn’t have been much of a problem. Given extra time, I can set up the display by myself. But we were not given extra time. This show begins at 10AM but customers start arriving by 9AM. The street doesn’t close until 6AM. Add to it that we need to dolly our stuff almost a block from trailer to booth, and we just purchased some mesh walls, which changed our setup entirely. I was completely stressed over whether I would live through the weekend!!
My husband luckily had crutches from the LAST time he sprained his ankle! We iced it immediately and he stayed off it as much as possible- hoping for the best.
We headed out with the camper and trailer Fri night- his ankle was feeling much better, but he was still on crutches. Sat. morning he was able to walk pretty well, thank heavens, and I did most of the dollying back and forth while he worked on setting up the tent.
With all this, I was less than relaxed by the time the show started. Things were piled all over in back of our tent. I was sticky and hot and grouchy. Customers seemed to be requiring a lot of my time and energy, and then leaving without buying anything. By the time the show ended at 6PM- I was ready for dinner and WINE with some friends at a local restaurant. As we started packing up, my husband said, ”Where is the silver jewelry case and 2 wheeled cart? It’s gone!” The jewelry case was empty, but it is a nice wheeled case that holds jewelry trays and is great for transporting. It was sitting on our new aluminum 2 wheeled cart, behind our open sided booth, about 6 feet from where we sat for most of the day. Sure, it probably should have been secured. And yes, I am sure the case looked like it would have valuables in it. But come on- they stole it right from under our noses!! We notified the Elmwood people as well as calling the police, and waited for them to come to fill out a report. The day was getting longer and longer, and our friends were waiting down the street at the restaurant. Finally, all was reported, and everything was out of the booth for the night, and I finally had my wine, dinner, socializing and FINALLY bed.
Oh yeh- before closing on Sat., the people from the art fest came around to tell us that high winds were forecasted for overnight and the next day- make sure to batten the hatches! What else!?! So we secured everything well before leaving. In the morning, there was quite a bit of damage to several tents in our area, and this one ended up on the adjoining lawn. It didn’t look like this day was starting out very well.
Thankfully our tent was secure and dry.
The worst part about the theft of our items was that I was now suspicious of everyone. Although it was in no way the fault of the show, it gave me a bad feeling toward this show that I love. The cart and case were worth less than $300- and thank god there was no jewelry in the case, so I guess it was a comparatively low cost lesson. But still….
One of the artists came down to my booth to tell me that he had seen 3 teenagers walking behind the booths with a silver case on a cart the day before. He thought it was odd, but didn’t know if it was theirs or not. Those kids had the nerve to take it all the way down the street past all the booths! Arghhhh!
Sunday was horribly windy. All day long, the wind was blowing in huge gusts. Tinkling glass was heard way too often. Some of the ceramic people actually took down their tents set up in the open. It made for another tense day.
At least it was a bit cooler and didn’t rain. And my husband’s ankle was much better. And the crowds were large, and buying! But I still had a bad feeling toward people- who would just walk off with my stuff?
About 3:00 my husband’s cell phone rang. It was a man who lived about 2 blocks from where we were. He said that when he came home late the night before and he found our items outside his gate where someone had obviously left them. He took them inside, found my phone number on the case and called us that afternoon. He said come on over and pick them up. My husband offered him money as a reward, but he would not accept it. He seemed like a very kind man, who really loved the neighborhood and was just trying to do right. The cart and case were returned to us with nothing missing or damaged. I never expected that. We packed up with no rain (always a plus) and my husband didn't use his crutches all day!
So with all the stress last weekend, it all turned out well and I had a great show. My faith in humankind is restored (but that doesn’t mean I won’t watch my stuff better next time) and I’ll be back again next year. All because a neighborhood man took the extra time to make that call and return my things. Thank you so much for that whoever you are!
(A few of my favorite pieces that I sold this weekend)