Last weekend I had two shows in two different states. I know that is like whipping myself with thorny branches but they are both good shows for me and do not always fall on the same weekend. The first show was in Bellevue Ky. It is my favorite show to do. As soon as I pull in the lot someone yells " Dennis is here ! Let's get over there!" Which 3 or 4 people do. They then unload the van and carry my stuff to the booth I have had for 6 or 7 years, tell me they are glad to see me and wish me a good show. I have a lot of friends who do the show and even though that may mean too many potters, we all do pretty well and it is great to see old friends. The volunteers bring around treat bags with fruit, nuts, Chex mix, and chocolate. They bring water all day and ask if they can go get some lunch for you. No where will you find a general art show that appreciates its artists this much. I have a very loyal customer base there and at least half a dozen early risers said they come just to see me! There is a guy who for 8 years has come every year and bought a nice pot for his mother's birthday. About 3 pm he and his family were passing the booth and I heard a WHOA ! There's our guy ! Then they came in and bought Mom's gift for the year. How in the world can you beat a show like that? Well, all week 90% chance of storms were forecast. At 3:30 we were told a big one was coming and we might want to pack up. I had arranged for a friend from our club to come help me pack so I called and asked her to come early. I finished with a coup[le of customers, she arrived and we started packing about 3:45. At 4:00 the wind suddenly went from breezy to hurricane. I believe it hit 75mph. There was no time to strip the sides off the tent and even with good weights and my racks staked to the ground the whole booth was about to go. Nikki and I grabbed the pots and put them on the ground and tried to keep the booth from sailing to Oz. Those wonderful volunteers ran over and grabbed on and at one point there were about 6 of us holding on for dear life. In less than a half hour, it was over . Two inches of rain, a few broken pots, everyone drenched to the bone, everything I owned soaking wet. Miraculously we had everything in the van by 5:10. It had been sudden and intense but it was over. Other people were not so lucky. Tents were ruined. Some flew into their neighbors. Work was damaged but everyone pulled together, no one was mad at anyone. No one was injured. I gave Nikki some money. She claimed it was too much. Given what she did under those conditions there is no way it could have been enough. Without her help and the volunteers, I would have lost it all. When I got home, I was amazed that with the weather gurus scaring everyone all week and closing over an hour early I still had strong sales and was only a couple of hundred off my record for that show. You roll the dice every time you go out.
Sunday I was in Loveland, Ohio. It is only 20 minutes from home so dawn didn't have to crack as early. I was moving slow but moving. I checked in and found my prayers had been answered and my booth was close to the unloading area. You can't drive into the park and have to cart everything in so this is a big deal to a crippled up old man. They have High School kids help move stuff too and they are appreciated but nothing beats being close. I was elated to see my old friend, jeweler Lydia Morrison was next to me and around her corner was my friend Trish McLennan. It is great to be with friends and have some camaraderie and mutual support. Trish told someone that I had extra shims for leveling things. I shared. Later some of Trish's friends stopped by and asked if they could pick up lunch for me, My friend Judy did some booth sitting for me and had a woman 90% sold on a set of bowls when I returned. The customer hemmed and hawed a bit about not being able to match up a set and said she would come to my next show when I had more stock. Ten minutes later she came back and said Judy had caught her in the midway and talked her into mixing colors ! Some friend from my old bicycling days stopped by, friends that I jam with on Sundays came and bought stuff too. Everything was much drier than it was the night before, I was exhausted, I had a pocket full of money from a very good show and to top it off, Trish had her 20 yr old or so son with her and I hired him to help pack for an hour when he was done with her. $20 well spent.
Monday I eventually got moving and scrubbed down the tent, dried the side panels, and finished airing out the boxes. Oh, back to the title. I have friends in the UK who occasionally try to teach me a little of the Queen's English. Knackered = Totally exhausted. Chuffed = very proud. Proud of the friends that I have, the customers that keep coming back, and that I am able to keep doing this because of them