This is usually my favorite event of the year.
This weekend, however, has me questioning my sanity and whether or not I even want to do these outdoor shows at all anymore.
My Mom and I drove down to set up on Friday: it was brilliantly sunny, super hot and sticky humid. In the hour it took us to set up the tent and my frame for the wings to hang on, we were drenched in sweat. Other vendors around us were talking apprehensively about the next two days would be like. Saturday dawned in a haze of fog. The fair grounds looked surreal with the tents peeking up through the mist. I wish I had had a chance to snap a few pictures, but we were too busy setting up. Even at 7:30am the heat was oppressive. Then the sun came out and things went from bad to worse. I believe the recorded temperature reached 97*F, but the heat index was over 100*F. Julia, Jill, my Mom and I all agreed that we had never sweat so much in all our lives. All of my wire jewelry and crowns became too hot to touch and I heard that a little girl got a second degree burn from picking up a piece of jewelry a few spots away. It was brutal, and my Mom ended up getting very sick from all the heat. Because there were so few customers and because it was to be even hotter on Sunday, we decided to pack up and go home than risk my Mom getting worse from being outside for another day.
It was a real let-down. I love the air of magic that the festival usually inspires, but this year I just felt limp. I was so drained by the sun that I couldn't walk around and visit other vendors or see the concerts. I have major respect for all the singers and dancers that performed and all the wonderful people who braved the heat to attend.
But this experience has really made me stop and think. I know that the full-time life of a traveling crafter is not for me. My art takes too much time to create to keep enough stock for more than a few shows a year. But those few shows are so draining that it zaps my energy for the next week or two after. Caravan artisans are at the mercy of the elements, whether it be brutal sun, pouring rain or freezing cold. You always seem to be stuck at 6's and 7's, never knowing what sort of turnout to expect from the customers or if you will be able to recoup your expenses just to get there. I hate to be so dependent on the intangible and incalculable.