Was I Really There? PA Laurel Festival

First, I’d like to thank everyone who was at the Laurel Festival June 19 and 20 and came by my booth to see me.  I know I’m late in getting this off, but I’ve finally come up for air, and am getting my mind “back”.  If you came by and wanted me to recognize you, hopefully I did.  It was fun, exhausting, crazy, well-traveled, unpredictable, and now gone until next year.

My helper took ill just before, and couldn’t help, as she was having surgery that weekend.  My replacement helper, and kind friend, Jean, came to my rescue and stayed with me both days, even though the Festival is something she avoids every year.  I know she was exhausted!  She kept bringing people into the tent, getting them to stop and shop.  My “circus hawker”.  Someone would walk by, and it was as if a sensor set her off.  “You must come in and see Beth’s things,”, she would say.  “She made all of these herself”.  And people would look.  Little matter I had a rack with pillows and a few aprons on it, “strategically placed” so they would see; it was the “Come on in!” inviting voice of Jean’s.

My Helper and Hawker, Jean

My Helper and Hawker, Jean

Now, if the inside of the tent looks a little wrinkled, it was!  After a very heavy rain the night before and that morning, everything was soggy.  Jean’s sitting on a blanket on her chair, because her chair was soaked.

Early in the morning of the 19th, when I thought I’d head out and show up early, to get things set up, I received a phone call–from the Chamber of Commerce.  “You need to get down here now.  Your tent has collapsed.”  No one wants to hear those words, and with the way things were going, I wasn’t in any mood for surprises.  For the next 15 minutes, on the ride down, I was envisioning what my tent looked like and how it collapsed.  Pictures of tote bags, pillows, closet safes and the like were floating in my mind–“How wet did it get? Breathe deeply.  You can’t do anything about the rain; go with the flow”.  And the “flow” from the rain before, was not another thing I wanted to deal with.

When I arrived, I noticed one corner of my tent had fallen.  Due to the rain, wind, or the poor quality of the tent (that’s another story, which involved my saved bookmark on my computer being mysteriously changed..) or all three, who knows.  But several people came by to help.  One very nice man, with alpacas, brought out some stakes and rope while another man held the tent in place, so it could be restaked.  I called my husband on the way down and asked him to help (he was having breakfast in town with friends).  He duct taped the flimsy roof supports.  Just after he left, Jean’s husband came by, saw the damage and drove 15 miles home to get some wood to shore up the supports.  Wonderful people! That tent wasn’t going anywhere.

Lunch?  Did anyone say, “Lunch”?  Instead of the “usual faire” at these events, Jean, my wonderful assistant, brought shrimp and cocktail sauce.  Yes!  A little wine, perhaps??  Well, no, but the shrimp was elegant.  Sitting in a soggy tent, with soggy items, muddy floor, stressed disposition, the shrimp was just what I needed.

Rack

The “Bring ’em in Rack”, complete with soggy tote bags, pillows and a few aprons.

Tables

The Product tables. Note the wet side walls, and the muddy floor. My little checkout counter on the right, and all the damp.

My little “checkout counter” in the right corner, where the chair is.  I taped a piece of cardboard to a TV tray, and then threw a dresser scarf over it, to make it all look “official”.  Now mind you, all of this was at the last minute, because what was planned weeks before fell apart slowly just a few days before this event.  I couldn’t find the extra table that was part of the floor plan and had to use a replacement, I was stressed from my helper being in the hospital, the tent collapsed, the linens lost their crisp pressing from the night before, everything was damp; my mind was “fried”.  But it all came together; just not in the way I wanted.  Wah!

Jean was such a help!  She organized things on the table, to make them display much better.

Jean's Handiwork

Jean’s Handiwork

The second day was when a lot of people showed up.  I found an old rug to place in front of the table, and I noticed that people stopped in more; they wanted something under their feet.  They would make remarks such as “I stitched this same pattern when I was a kid”, “My (aunt/grandma/sister) had several of these lying around”, and not one complained about the price or that they “could make that for less”.

Everyone was kind; especially my very first customer, who used her credit card.  I needed the practice because I was “up with the world” and had a credit card reader for purchases.  It took me over 15 minutes for that one customer because it was so damp, the reader apparently wasn’t working like it should have been.  Finally, I thought to manually enter the numbers.  Thankfully, I made some “Whoops!” cards ahead of time (my one planned thing…) to hand out for times such as that one.  And I’m proud to say that I handed out just one.

It all finished up when we finished Saturday night, about 5:00.  Everything loaded, space cleaned up, and on the way home—it POURED!  If I left just a little later, it would have been. . . well, I don’t want to go there….

And as to participating next year, well, after hearing a couple horror stories from my good friend Michelle about a few of her craft fairs, mine was something I shouldn’t be unhappy about.  So yeah, maybe!