Show Review of the Month Chesapeake Spring Arts Festival
April 22-23, 2023; Chesapeake Spring Arts Festival, Chesapeake, VA. Contact: Chesapeake Rotary and Chesapeake Fine Arts Commission, Jon Berry, 319 Cawdor Xing, Chesapeake, VA 23322; Phone: 757-676-4979; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: chesarts.com; Space fees: $175 to $575; Space sizes: 10x10 to 30x10; 100% outdoors; Exhibitors: 125; Attendance estimate: 7,500; Admission: free.
Compiled from FastAudit reports
The Chesapeake Spring Arts Festival ranked FA17 in 2022’s 200 Best list. Of the artists who reviewed 2023’s show, 84% said they would exhibit in the festival again.
An artist who did not note a medium reported $1,800 in sales and said, “I live here. I couldn’t have asked for a better show! Great attendance, staff, and atmosphere. Every show needs to be this.”
A jewelry artist who made $725 would do the show again.
The sales total for one mixed media artist was $250. “Having the Rotary volunteers help us unload and reload was a huge help. While the attendance was good, the majority of people just walked by without even looking at the booths. I mistakenly assumed this was an art show by the name, but in fact it was a craft show. So, I would participate again but would bring my craft items,” the artist said.
One photographer made about $700 and does not plan to return due to not having enough sales and thinking the show was craft heavy. “Either volunteers or a food truck took our display racks and used them to try to get a food truck out of a mud rut without our permission — destroyed part of our display,” the artist said.
Sales for an artist whose medium was painting totaled $1,800. This artist would not do the show again and said, “Crowds were for music (local band), not art. Too many emails about logistics. Confusing about where to go to load-in. The headliner band brought in non-art show people. Wrong crowd and lots of them!”
An artist whose medium was other at this show would participate again. “This was my first juried event as a luxury soap artist. I had no issues with the management at all. I enjoyed it very much. Management even helped with golf carts loading and unloading,” said the artist who had about $1,670 in sales.
Also interested in returning is an artist whose mediums are painting and photography. The artist made $1,500 and said, “The promoters help getting your work to site with golf carts — very helpful. Parking was easy peasy. Well attended and promoted. Super organized and well run.”
An artist whose medium was painting would do the show again because it is close by. The artist did not provide a sales total but offered feedback for the promoter. This artist’s site was under water on Sunday. “I know I saw 15 to 30 people walk away because they didn’t want to walk in the mud. Some straw would have helped. I never saw anyone judging. Nobody identified themselves as a judge.”
A fiber/textile/leather artist who made $600 would return.
An artist whose mediums are painting and printmaking had $540 in sales and would exhibit there again.
An arts and crafts artist who had close to $900 in sales said Saturday’s wind was outside the promoter’s control but “I’d rented a tent and the tent was amazing.” The artist would participate again.
An art glass artist also wants to exhibit in the future, saying, “Great crowds, easy load-in/-out.” The artist reported $1,280 in sales.
Sales for an artist whose mediums are fine art and ceramics totaled $900. “Wonderfully planned event,” said the artist, who would do the show again.
Festival Director Jon Berry said the third annual Chesapeake Spring Arts Festival went spectacularly. “Our attendance was easily double the year before,” he said. “We had 30% more vendors on site this year, and our venue was effectively full.”
He estimated attendance at 7,500 and said the event closed early on Saturday due to a storm.
Berry commented on feedback received from artists. “All the artists we spoke to were very happy with the show and said that they would like to return. All the artists reported really good sales and were very happy with the turnout. People were obviously in a buying mood. Most artists went out of their way to tell me what a well-run show we have and what an amazing cadre of helpful volunteers we had,” he said.
He addressed the comments of some artists who reviewed the festival. “We had one unfortunate incident where a volunteer damaged an artist’s display hardware,” Berry said. “The show compensated the artist for their losses.”
Regarding an artist who reported confusion about the logistics of load-in and load-out, Berry said, “We did try to be clear about the process because the city does not allow cars to drive in the park. A map of the park was provided with the load-in zones and subsequent parking for artists. However, next year, we will attempt to be clearer and more concise in our load-in instructions.”
One artist reported mud around their tent after a night of rain. “They suggested having some straw on hand would have been helpful, and we will definitely have that available in future years in case the weather is inclement,” he said.
Berry shared what was learned at the show that will improve future festivals. “We are going to change the way we set up for the event by starting with site layout a day earlier, which will allow artists to come set up earlier,” he said. “We are going to provide dedicated porta-potties for artist use.”
His message to those considering the show in the future is, “Despite ours being a relatively new show, you should not let that put you off on coming! We are already establishing ourselves as a premier show in our area, and as an organization, we have 14 years’ experience running large events like with our fall wine festival. This show will only continue to get bigger and better!”