With Ken, we’ve had a crazy busy weekend, when we just had to run from one place to another, from one meeting to another. Still, we’ve managed to carve out a couple hours to visit Occoquan Craft Show. A few months ago, we were invited by the show organizers to apply to and participate in the next one. However, our iron-clad rule has always been to shop a show first before applying to it. So, we did :). Here are some notes on the Show.
1. Occoquan Craft Show is located along few central streets in the Historic District of Occoquan, VA. Historic District is quite lovely, with old buildings, some of which are of the colonial era, as I could tell. Behind the District, there is the beautiful Occoquan River, sometimes called The River of Dreams.
2. There are about 100-120 vendors selling at the Show. Their booths stand next to each other, in front of the regular stores on the streets of Occoquan. There is plenty of walking space between the booths on the opposite sides, much more than usual. Because of that, it is easy to see the vendors and the merchandise.
3. Quality of merchandise – average and above average. Merchandise includes jewelry, home decor, painting, photography, pet items, candles, soaps, clothing, furniture, and sculpture. Prices – from $8 and up. There are no very expensive items ($10, 000 and up). Jewelry mostly includes stringing, weaving, seed beads, stones, and sterling. There is no fine (gold/platinum/diamond) jewelry, which is understandable, as this is an outdoor show.
4. Most vendors are very professional, polite, and approachable. Some were selling at the show for 3+ years. Sellers of small items, such as candles and soap, say that sales get better every year.
5. There are a lot of visitors at the Show, about 1/3 to 1/4 of whom are actual customers. Even after the show closing time, there are still people walking around (myself included) buying things.
6. Parking at the Show is not a good situation. What was normally customer parking for the visitors of the stores located on the streets of Occoquan, is turned into vendor parking closed to the general public. In order to get to the Show site, one has to park in one of the 4 public parking lots about 2 miles away from the Show, and then take a shuttle bus to the Show. Buses go every 15-20 minutes, and the fare is $4 per person.
8. There are no maps at the Show site. No signs either. Guards and vendors don’t know how to get to the shuttle bus stops. There are 4 bus stops, designated by color (green, red, etc.), and each of the buses takes visitors only to the particular parking lot of the same color. It is very easy to get lost (which I did 🙂 ). In addition, close to the Show closing time buses stopped picking visitors and are only dropping them off, so it became impossible to get to the Show or to the Historic District itself.
9. No electric outlets are visible. Vendors can get electricity from the stores on the streets. As a result, most vendors only accept cash and personal checks, not credit cards.
10. There are mobile bathrooms outside, which are very clean, there is no smell at all. Much better than at other shows we’ve visited. At the Show, there are no places to sit and rest. The only suitable spaces are located at the ends of the Show site. There are a few fast food vendors selling hot dogs, pizza, and subs. All of their facilities and equipment look relatively clean and decent; there are no bad smells or rotting food. Again, much better than at many other shows.
To conclude, we did like the Show and will probably be applying to the next one. And if you live in the area or are planning to travel here at the time of the next Show, you might want to come and visit the Show. This will give you an interesting experience of shopping traditional artisanal crafts in a historic surrounding. Food isn’t bad, too 🙂 and the nature here is very beautiful.
The next Show will be held on June 1 and 2, 2013.
All images are from the Occoquan Craft Show official website: www.occoquancraftshow.com