This past Sunday marked the end of my very first festival season. I finished with the biggest one of them all -The 31st Annual Chester County Restaurant Festival. For those of you who have been following my blog, you know that I have been looking forward to and kind of dreading this one all summer. I knew this was going to be huge. Around 20,000 people are estimated to attend every year. In the years past I have walked the few blocks from my apartment to check out the scene and every year I become agitated and uncomfortable submerging myself into the crowd. I usually don't make it there too long, and I never walk away with more than a sugary lemonade before the crowd makes me want to start throwing elbows.
The idea of having my very own stand was exciting because I knew of the exposure it was going to offer me as well as terrifying because I knew how exposed I was going to feel. Some may think it is just about the money and that I should be ecstatic thinking about the cabbage I was going to bring home. Of course that is a perk and I am very appreciative for every dollar spent under my tent but for me, that's not all it is about. For a generally private person that somewhat hides behind her craft, I was putting it all out there. If I didn't care about each piece I made, it would be easier. If I didn't think about what brought that piece out of me while you were looking at it and trying it on, it would be easier for me. I openly tell people which pieces are the hardest for me to sell while they are purchasing them. I think it is important for people to see that I am not just pumping out necklaces and earrings here. I do it because I love it. Everyone has a stress reliever. I am just lucky enough to be able to profit from one of mine.
All in all the day was just what I needed it to be.
An unbelievable crowd of people stopped by my booth throughout the day, and were very receptive to my designs. I recieved a lot of postitive feedback and was asked many questions about my technique and how I learned to work with polymer clay. I loved being able to talk about the craft. I have such a deep relationship with it now and I felt at home when I was able to speak about it. At one point a customer found a piece he liked, but wondered if I might be able to put it on a chain instead of a leather necklace. Of course I was happy to oblige. I pulled out my supplies and went to work on it for a few minutes. I was surprised to find that a few minutes focusing on just that necklace provided me with some time to pull myself back in and center a little. This was a welcomed distraction as it was around the midday mark and I was beginning to feel the weight of the crowd. This confirmed to me at that point that this was truly something I loved to do - I am putting my time and energy into the right thing.
With all of that being said, I can't wait until next year. No really, I can't wait. I can definitely feel the momentum building right now and I am very excited about what is yet to come.