Ever wonder what it’s like to participate in a 10-day craft show? Let me tell you about the 2004 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Tender Loving Arts and Crafts put on a fine art show at the north end of the balloon field this year. The large white tent had great presence and the pretty pink banner on top of the tent, announcing the fine crafts inside, was alluring.
Throngs of bleary-eyed people flooded the tent, yet early morning sales were few, and far between. Nature took its course, rain came and little rivers rolled through our crafty spaces. Electricity took its turn around the tent; lights flickered and failed for several days. A big burly electrician plowed through the crafters booths searching for culprit plugs, pottery crashed to the floor in the space behind mine. Finally enough generators are running to manage the juice flow.
Never mind about the cold weather that was certainly manageable. Never mind about the 3:30 am wake up call, I normally get up at 4:30 am anyway. No big deal. The greatest disappointment came from the idea planted in our brains that the product would fly off the shelves. It didn’t take long to figure out that 90% of the people wandering around in circles either had no intention of purchasing anything or were just incapable of conscientious thought so early in the day. Most were just killing time until the balloons inflated. This was my first and last big show. For every 500 people who stopped and said wonderful things like, “This is the prettiest pottery I have ever seen,” one would buy a piece. Imagine how wonderful I felt when one very sweet customer came back and said how sorry she was to have left my booth in the first place. Since then, she had gone to every booth including the Rio Grande Art tent and had not seen anything so beautiful. I was like a proud peacock, feathers out all purple and shiny.
I couldn’t tell you what the best part of the fiesta was, the happy balloons filling up with hot air or the precious, precocious children that came in flocks. I pretended I was on vacation and ate yummy Philly beef sandwiches, fudge and exotic banana lattes. Yes, I did make a profit. No, it was not the large sum I had imagined. Several wonderful things came about from this long and weary show. I became a better potter by the sheer large number of pots I made for this venture.
I met some wonderful people including a bright young lady who very much reminded me of myself at a younger age. A year in planning and I did it, I really did it. And I can say I did, just not exactly my way.
Rita S. Ryan
Rita’s Pottery Garden Studio is located in Rio Rancho, NM