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Recap: Art On the Square, Bedford, PA

June 24, 2012

This was the first show since we started travelling.  It was a good opportunity to practice pulling the show gear from storage compartments and loading it into the transport vehicle.  For this show, we rented a 2012 Ford F-150 truck.  Why?  It was the biggest thing we could find available in Bedford.  We actually had to rent some kind of vehicle anyway, because of problems with the Jeep.  (We had originally intended to rent a small cargo trailer.)  With the Jeep in a local shop to replace the throw-out bearing and pressure plate, we tried to find a van, but there was none to be had.

The Espy House, built around 1771. George Washington’s headquarters during the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.

Fortunately, the weather was beautiful.  Had it rained, we would still have been okay, because the art tubs have a pretty good seal and we weren’t going far.  (We have unloaded a cargo trailer at a show venue in the rain before, so we know the drill for that.)  What impressed us was that all of the show gear fit easily into the truck.  With the rear seats folded up, all of the show panels stacked neatly inside, lying flat.  There was room at one end, next to the door, for about eight larger paintings in their protective flannel “pillowcases”, and on top of the panels was a flat tub and a couple of other items.  The short bed held four tubs, two tables, the tent, a large cooler, two camp chairs, and the stabilizer bars for the panels.  There was room for more.

We had loaded the panels on Friday, and around 6:15 on Saturday morning, as quietly as possible (remember, we’re in a campground), we pulled the rest of the equipment from storage and loaded it into the truck.  We don’t think we made any more noise than someone who might be unhooking an RV and leaving early.  The drive into town only took about ten minutes, and we arrived downtown at the 7am setup time.

There was a breakdown in organization regarding the use of the street downtown.  Even though there were barricades at each end, there was room for a vehicle to get past.  So, several cars had come in during the night (there are residential apartments upstairs in some of the buildings) and parked along the curb.  We were delayed almost an hour getting started with setup because a car was blocking a portion of our booth site.  We unloaded onto the sidewalk, and Nell took the truck to find a place to park.  With show time at 10am, we had been requested to be set up by 9:30.  Because it’s been about eight months since we’ve done a show, we had a couple of false starts, but still managed to have the booth show-ready at 9:30 sharp.  In high humidity, I tend to perspire, and then feel not so neat after setup.  There were porta-potties in an alley about a half block away, so I carried a fresh shirt and did a quick Superman-in-the-phone-booth change to feel a little more presentable.

We finally marked the top corners of the tent side panels.  Getting them matched up so there is a zipper on every corner is always a frustration.  Teardown on Sunday afternoon went very smoothly.  We were ready to load the truck in about 45 minutes.

We had been told this wasn’t a huge show, so we weren’t expecting a huge turnout.  We just wanted to get back under the tent, and practice working from the RV.  Saturday’s crowd was light, probably lighter than we expected, but it was a good day anyway.  We sold enough small pieces to break even on the show, met a lot of very nice Pennsylvanians, and got a lot of positive feedback on the artwork.

A bonus for this show was that the Bedford County Council for the Arts provided dinner for all vendors on Saturday evening.  There was a keg on the back porch, tables set up in the main gallery, and plenty of excellent lasagna, salad, and desserts.  At one end of the room a couple of guys played and sang folk music, including a lot of songs I haven’t heard since the Sixties.  All we needed was head scarves, beads and a smoky haze in the air.  It was a nice evening of camaraderie for all of us, and a chance to get acquainted.

We had been told to expect Sunday to be lighter than Saturday, but it didn’t turn out that way.  It got off to a really slow start, but picked up in the afternoon.  Our neighbors on both sides appeared to do well, and so did we.

Maryland artist Greg Malloy stopped in.  We had a really nice conversation, and he left with one of my small barn paintings.

It was a day of returning buyers, and of “be backs” actually coming back.  A lady and her husband bought a small painting on Saturday.  On Sunday afternoon, they returned, specifically to buy a second painting she had looked at on Saturday.

The delightful lady in the photo above bought a small watercolor of an Italian street scene on Saturday.  On Sunday, she returned and bought two more companion pieces.

And once again our policy of not starting teardown until the actual closing time paid off.  Two ladies who had said they’d be back actually came back right at closing time… and bought this little painting.

We had spent quite a bit of time packaging little 5×7 paintings and sketches, and they turned out to be the hot items for us.  Most of them were purchased unframed and unmatted, and turned this into a profitable show for us.

When it was over, we had met some really nice people.  We loaded the truck, drove to the RV park, and transferred everything back into the motorhome’s basement compartments.  It worked great.

When we bought the motorhome, we thought it would be fun to roll into a town, discover that they were having some kind of festival, find the Chamber of Commerce, and see if we could get a booth.  Well, that’s what we did in Bedford, PA.  And it worked out beautifully.

How cool is that?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. William R Moore permalink
    June 25, 2012 7:07 am

    Your booth, as usually, looked good.

    Living the dream, can’t plan experiences like that. Glad you had a good experience.

    • June 27, 2012 6:38 am

      Thanks William. At least now we know it can be done without too much difficulty.

  2. June 25, 2012 7:29 am

    Very cool, Ralph! You have a super set up, great that it worked out the way you hoped…..even better that you sold some.

  3. June 27, 2012 1:15 am

    Great set up Ralph, congtratulations on the sales.


  4. Greg Malloy permalink
    June 29, 2012 10:37 am

    Love my new “Ralph Parker” painting…when I gaze into it it takes me to a very comfortable place…Thank you, Ralph!…looking foward to enjoying it for years to come!
    -Greg Malloy


  1. Bedford, PA « Back Roads & Brushes

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