Evaluate Your Fairs and Festivals

Although there are websites that help artists find and rate art and craft festivals and fairs, it is a decision that often requires a bit of personal research. Use these tips to find your own best shows.


Street art festival


Before applying and exhibiting at shows, attend as many in person as is reasonable. This gives you an opportunity to take a look at how it is run, the quality of work, and the crowd attending before you decide if it is right for you. Consider:

  • Was the show organized and well-presented?
  • Take a look at the variety of displays. Are different mediums well-represented, or is it heavy on one medium? (jewelry, for example.)
  • Is the atmosphere upbeat and exciting for shoppers?
  • Were there a lot of customers shopping?
  • Were they “lookers” or did they have shopping bags?
  • What do exhibitors have to share about their experience?
  • Is this show a good fit for what you are making and selling?

Once you have exhibited at a show, evaluate your experience and decide whether it is worth repeating. Take a look at:

  • How much was the booth fee? Were sales sufficient to justify this expense?
  • Was the booth size as promised, and was it adequate?
  • Was the length of the show appropriate for the amount of sales made?
  • How much travel time was involved? Was the show worth the trip?
  • What other expenses did you have? Hotel, gas, meals, parking, etc.
  • What was the quality of the work other exhibitors were showing?
  • Was the show advertised well?
  • Was show management reasonable and responsive?
  • Overall, were you satisfied with your experience and your sales?


Doing this type of research can often lead to changing your schedule for the better. Artist Carroll Swayze did an in-depth analysis of her shows and her outcomes, and came up with a plan that involved less work and more income. She shares her story here.

What else do you take into consideration when you preview or evaluate a fair?

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  1. Thank you for this great article. I’m not actually selling at fairs…yet, but this checklist is helpful even for a newbie. I won’t be ready for one until I can increase my inventory and somehow manage to buy all the equipment needed (including a way to transport it all). I know there must be a way to do it alone. I’ll be bookmarking this for when I’m ready!

  2. I’ve done art shows for 25 years. I sell more expensive paintings so it is important for me to find a well-heeled clientele. I usually call them HENRY’s which stands for High Earner Not Rich Yet. (The really rich rarely buy at outdoor art shows, they go to high end galleries) One of my best ways to to ascertain if the clientele are wealthy enough to purchase a painting is what I call the LV Index. I count the number of Louis Vuitton handbags that go by. Guys, you may need some help here spotting one, but these are handbags that cost $600-$2000. If you can drop that much on a handbag, you can well afford an original painting for your walls. A very good day is 25, a spectacular day is 50 and a bad day is 2-3. It correlates surprisingly well with my sales.

    • Linda, That is a fascinating way to gauge whether the crowd is right for your work. Congratulations on your eagle-eye and understanding the events that will produce for you!

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