Figuring out how to run a craft fair is something you have to learn from experience. There is a major learning curve, and the best teacher is time. However, with just a few easy steps, you can make sure that both your vendors and those attending will thoroughly enjoy the event.
Basics of Planning a Craft Fair
First things first: don't panic! Any event can be broken down into bite-size pieces. A lot of the work you will need to do will be finished long before the day of the craft fair.
Plot It Out
In the planning stages, it's important that you figure out what kind of craft fair you want to have. If you're working with a committee, it's even more crucial to map out the entire event. That way, it can run smoothly, and all members involved can really enjoy it on the designated day. Here are a few issues that will need to be addressed so that you can plot out the event:
- Date and Time - Saturday and Sunday are both good days to hold an event if you want working families to attend. If you must plan an event on a weekday, consider your crowd. If your target attendees are at school or work, you will probably have low attendance. Afternoon events that run until evening time can work as well.
- Location - Your location should be convenient, easy to find, and offer plenty of parking (preferably free). You should also make a plan in case of inclement weather, even if that plan is only to say "rain or shine."
- Theme - If you want your craft fair to have a theme, you need to decide how you will incorporate this into your plan. You can create a festive feeling with decorations and music, especially if you're having a winter holiday or harvest craft fair.
- Type of Vendor - Early on, you or the planning committee will need to decide what type of vendors you will and will not accept for the event. If you want to limit your event to only hand-crafted or artisan vendors, such as jewelers, painters, quilters, and more, you might want to consider calling it a "juried" craft fair. This will require vendors to submit photos and some written documentation prior to the event. Generally, this will eliminate many of the booths that offer mass-reproduced items. It's also a good idea to charge an application fee to prevent no-shows. You can use this money for a door prize and for advertising.
- Create a Floor Plan - Once you have your location, it's time to figure out how much room you have. Booth spaces can run from about six-by-six feet to as many as twelve-by-twelve feet. Draw a map to scale as best you can. Be sure to account for floor traffic, seating near food vendors, if applicable, and clear routes to bathrooms and water fountains. Once you've determined how many vendor spaces you have, you can then set about filling them.
Get (and Stay) Organized
At the very beginning, designate someone to take charge of sorting through vendor applications, accepting money, and keeping track of the small details, such as assigning vendors to booth spaces.
Get the Word Out
Advertising is key to not only bring in customers, but attract vendors as well.
- Attract vendors by putting up a "Call for Vendors" flier at local retail boutiques and coffee shops and by advertising in the newspaper. If the event is juried, be sure to include this information on the flier.
- About one to two months before the event, it's a good idea to create a new flier targeted toward the general public. This flier should include the date, time, and names of vendors to attract attention.
- Two to three weeks prior to the event, call your local newspaper to let them know about the fair. Sometimes, they will be willing to write a short blurb or include your event in their city calendar. It never hurts to ask.
- Contact local radio stations a few days before the event to help get the word out.
Last Minute Details
The week before the event, you should meet with volunteers or committee members to go over all the last minute details. As you prepare, consider the following:
- Is your floor plan complete?
- Have all your vendors paid and received booth assignments?
- Are door prizes, games, and entertainment ready to go?
- Do you have enough volunteers, and does everyone know their roles for the day of the event?
Your last pre-event planning meeting will be one of your most important. It's common to feel like there are too many loose ends at this stage. Realize that most people attending your event will not know if things aren't perfect. Relax.
The day of the event will start off with a bang. Vendors will arrive very early for setup. As the event organizer, it's important that you and your volunteers be available to answer questions and provide help where you can. Once the craft show begins, you will be able to relax and enjoy the event. It's a good idea to have all volunteers wear coordinating colors or T-shirts, so vendors can quickly find assistance when and if they need it.
Relax and Have Fun
Figuring out how to run a craft fair doesn't have to be stressful. In fact, it can be as fun to plan as it is to attend. Just remember that perfection isn't the goal; having fun is.