Fair Etiquette – How to Treat Your Neighbors at Festivals

January 2013

Image Courtsey: Taro the Shiba Inu/ Flickr.comImage Courtsey: Taro the Shiba Inu/

Art festivals and craft fairs can represent wonderful opportunities to meet new people and make some terrific connections in regards to your art. However, it’s important to note that there is a certain etiquette that should be followed in order to ensure that you and your neighbors both have equally pleasant experiences. Make sure you keep these simple directives in mind so that your experience goes as smoothly as possible.

Talking and Chatting

While it’s fine to be friendly and socialize with your neighbors, it’s important not to interfere in any way with another artist’s sales. If things are slow, it’s fine to visit other booths and chat. However, be courteous and stay out of the way if they have customers. Definitely take care not to block their displays in any way. You could deter them from making a sale or discourage potentially interested clientele from coming to see what they have to offer.

Don’t Complain in Front of Customers

While everyone is going to have their beefs and inconveniences with some of the hassles that come with the territory of working events, it’s important not to complain in front of customers. This can be a real turn-off and discourage people from buying or wanting to spend much time there, not only for you but for your neighbors as well. Always be polite, courteous, and pleasant at all times. Save the venting for another time.

Be a Helpful Neighbor

Everyone appreciates setting up shop next to a helpful neighbor. If you see your neighbor having a hard time setting up a display, why not offer to help? You know how much you’d appreciate it if the shoe were on the other foot. Also consider offering to “booth sit” if you see someone’s busy and doesn’t have adequate help. They’d probably appreciate the chance to grab a cold drink or a quick meal.

Keep Religion and Politics Off the Table

The social environment at an art show is the same as anyplace else. Politics and religion are considered to be off-putting subjects for neighbors and customers alike, so save your rants on the latest political scandal for another time. Keep conversations clean, polite, and focused on non-inflammatory subjects so that things stay pleasant and non-offensive to everyone within ear shot.

At the end of the day, good art fair etiquette and being a stellar neighbor are all about being polite, considerate, and pleasant.


As I was reading this list, memories of just those things happening to me as a visitor came to mind. It is true, unless articles for sale are very compelling, I do not hang around in booths where the talk is negative or I am being ignored. Good advice. Thank you.

By Stephanie Thompson on January 8, 2013

I used to go to shows with a fellow jeweler to share transportation costs. Sometimes when a customer was in my booth, she’d come up to the customer and say “I have a necklace that matches your blouse” and, of course, my customer was distracted and went over to her booth. She often used my expressions and greetings which I found very annoying. Throughout the day, she would clock watch and constantly say “only X number of hours, minutes to go. She has since given up “show business” and I hate to say it, but I’m relieved.

By Shirley Van Slate on January 8, 2013

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