A number of you are waiting with bated breath to hear news of our adventures so here's our update. Two days of R&R in Fayetteville was comfortable-ish. Peter had a heck of a time with his lower back pain and our hot and cold treatments worked and didn't with no predictability, but he said he could go on and we did, now targeting northern Florida as our next stopping point. Peter did well that day and we found a fun hotel on the beach for our final night before arriving in Coral Gables for the Festival of Arts. The good news through all of this is that Peter is able to sleep so he is getting rest. Day 5 dawned with a spectacular sunrise over the Atlantic after which our sights were set on Miami.
We arrived at the Courtyard Marriott, only four blocks from the site of the festival, by mid-afternoon. For the first time since our departure, we emptied the car of all suitcases and boxes etc. We'd been living out of day bags, but now we needed clean, "new" clothes and all of my desk and charge card materials for the show. Once settled, Peter and I found a branch of our bank where we got cash for the "register" for the next day's sales and then we walked the two blocks of Giralda where we expected to be setting up at 5:00 a.m. the next morning. Peter was walking gingerly and really didn't like the concrete sidewalk but said he was sure he'd be good to work the next morning.
NOT! Peter's pain continued and watching him simply try to sit or stand convinced me that an executive decision was needed and I made it. We would not participate in this show and we'd focus on getting him better for the next. He looked so relieved and in hind sight it was the best decision for so many reasons.
Peter took a long hot bath Saturday morning after which he rested. Feeling improved, he joined me walking down to the festival to see how it was set up and learn as much as we could, and we learned oodles. This is the very first year for this festival and it was apparent organization was lacking. First the layout of the festival was the mirror image of the schematic that had been provided before the show. We spoke to several artists and photographers, but one was especially informative and friendly - Grace Berge, a photographer from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She told us that the organizer in fact changed the layout of the festival the night before, and he didn't show up until 6:00 a.m. to mark the street with the booth numbers for the artists. That meant that a number of artists including Grace had to move not once but twice. What an infuriating fiasco that would have been.
Apparently there was also no real plan for parking, especially for larger rigs and cars towing trailers. Grace found a small car lot on Giralda and drove over the divider thus parking her car in one space and her trailer in another, and everyone refused to pay the $4 for parking.
Grace also told us that there had been no advertising for the festival and pointed out that there weren't even banners hanging in the neighborhood heralding the coming event. AND, the shopkeepers along these two blocks of Coral Gables hadn't been told that the street was going to be closed off for the entire weekend. They arrived stunned and dismayed which quickly turned to anger.
The crowds were paltry for the festival and those pedestrians who were ambling the street didn't look interested in art or food. There was supposed to be a $10 charge to enter the festival but we were just waved in when we approached from the west. We would have been truly aggravated if we'd paid to see this show. We felt very fortunate that, in fact, we were not participating - to do all that work with no commensurate reward would have been very frustrating, and we would never have been able to meet Grace and talk to her for close to an hour - an hour during which not one person stopped to truly peruse her beautiful images.
Where did she find affordable digs? Air B&B.
How does she break down at the end of a show? Slightly expensive "bubble bags" from FrameDestination.com placed in large cartons that were perched on a trolley behind her tent safely draped with a waterproof tarp.
What does she do if she sells out of an image while on her 5-6 week road trip? Orders from Bay Photo.
How are Howard Alan shows? Well organized and not as stuffy as they sound.
What's been her best show this trip? Delray Beach the previous weekend.
How long has she been doing this? She started around Santa Fe last summer and this is her first time on the road.
Does she like it? She said it's a little like being a "carny" and she likes it more and more.
At the end of the day we learned far more from not participating than we would have participating and what we learned will help with every show to come. More good news for us? Mario, the organizer, agreed to "refund" us our booth fee by applying it to next year's show - so it may not be a loss at all and right now we consider it well spent dollars on R&D (Research & Development). We also weren't charged for our last night in the hotel.
Now in central Florida with a sister, seeing physicians, and working hard to get Peter in shape for this coming weekend's show in St. Petersburg. Cross your fingers please.