What Can You Do to Draw Crowd to Craft Shows and Festivals?

March 2011

Image Courtsey: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.netImage Courtsey: xedos4 /

There is something that has been going on at craft fairs and festivals all across the United States. It is a problem that stems most likely from the decline in the economy, but it is a problem that can be overcome with a little work from you. The problem is that fewer people are attending these festivals, and this drop in attendance is taking its toll on vendors everywhere. Whether the attendance problem is based on the economy or it has to do with how the show or festival is being promoted, it is a problem for everyone involved in the event.

As a vendor, this is a big concern for you, however, you must be wondering what you could possibly do to bring in more customers and attendants to the fair or festival overall. There are plenty of actions you can take, and if every vendor does their part, it can make a big difference.

Start by thinking about what you can do to get your name out there among people who may be interested in the craft show. Many people are turning more and more toward technology to handle their marketing and promotions. You could consider building an e-mail mailing list that would allow people to sign up and receive notifications from you. This way, you can keep customers informed of when you will be at the next festival. Chances are, they will pass the word along to their friends, and you could gain even more customers at the event.

If you feel like the e-mail list just is not right for you, then consider flyers. It would not cost that much to create a flyer, have copies made of it and then pass them out around town a week or so before the craft show or festival. Flyers can gain a great deal of attention from possible attendees.

You may be thinking that you alone cannot bring in that many people to the craft show. However, consider this: if you take action to bring in customers to the festival, and you manage to bring in six new customers, that is six customers who may visit all the vendors. If all the vendors take action as well, then that number is multiplied. If there are one hundred vendors, that is six hundred more potential customers visiting the craft show or festival.

It is no secret that there has been a decline in attendance at craft shows, fairs, and festivals. However, if artists and vendors pitch in, just a little, then the whole attendance can rise dramatically.


Absolutely 100% correct

By kauser on March 16, 2011

This is very true.  The sad part is that most people do not feel that they can make a difference.  Just by announcing on Facebook, Twitter or by e-mail to friends and family, you will see a difference in attendance.

By Jerry Springfield on March 16, 2011

Very true! Vendors need to recognize that they are part of the success of any venue they participate in and this little effort not only can increase attendance at an event it also developes a closer relationship with your customers which are the heart of our businesses.

By Sparkle Girl on March 16, 2011

i will try anything, i had about given up, the shows are drawing less and less, i love showing my work, at festivals.

By jenny on March 18, 2011

Wow, this is truly a lesson learned! I haved dreamed of doing something similar but was afraid of no one showing up to shop from the vendors!. thanks for the tips this gives me inspiration and new ideas.

By MsANN45 on March 18, 2011

I agree with all of the ones mentioned.  Two of these are free - Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook fan pages are perfect.  You can advertise your business, mention events, etc.  The sky is the limit.  However, as of Mar 11, Facebook changed their coding.  I can help you get a new page up and running.  The new coding actually makes a better product that the old fan pages.

Promoters should also be using Facebook.

Twitter is celebrating its 5th B-day today and is a great way to alert people.  You can start twitting your target group as well as others.Use it to remind people shortly before the event as well as during the event.

E-mail lists are great.  I use Aweber for my autoresponder. An autoresponder is used to collect names and e-mails (that’s what happens when you sign up or opt-in to a list). I send out a newsletter each week.  I also let customers know well ahead of time of the schedule so they can plan.  I then remind them each week of the upcoming events as well as the event for this week.  I include new products, scents, suggestions, reminders of things like Mother’s Day, Daylight Savings Time, etc.  Basically I keep in touch frequently.  If you need more info on Aweber let me know.

Also use a blog and your website for announcing events.  It is amazing how many other vendors will look up your website to find out about shows.  That means more vendors and more customers.

Hope this helps.

By Mark on March 21, 2011

What if promoters considered using the data base of the artists as an asset.  Usually after the promoters get our money we get a map and a list of rules.  It would be in their interest to send us postcards, provide an email form to use or whatever they could to assist the artist to contact their customers.  Just picking a date and hoping that customers will come is a thing of the past.  Perhaps artists could ask the promoters what marketing they will make available to the artist to contact their people.  Cause just showing up won’t cut it anymore.

By Bob Kerr on March 22, 2011

Being the coordinator of a large Arts & Craft Show we have found this problem to be very true.  We are going into our third year and have posted on every craft show website we can find, put our website into free directories, handout fliers, place posters all over town, send out emails, postcards and have large signs put up all over town just prior to the show.  We even tried radio advertising with monies we receive from sponsors.  Are we missing anything?  I am also a vendor, so I see both sides of the situation.
Kate Friederichs

By Kate Friederichs on March 23, 2011

I did forget to mention in my previous comment that this year we are sending, via email, brochures to all of our vendors so they can print out as many as they want to distribute.  They know they are helping themselves as well as everyone else.
Kate Friederichs

By Kate Friederichs on March 23, 2011

Two things - Try a facebook fan page - Get vendors, friends, other companies, etc. to like or friend your page.  Update frequently.  You may also be able to advertise on Facebook and target geographically/demographically.

Also look at Press Releases as well as talk to local newspaper, television, and radio reporters about reporting on your show in advance as well as on the first day of the show if it is a multiple day show.

When you send out e-mails, etc., provide a website URL plus just or even more important, have the visitor opt-in for a chance at a prize or coupon for reduced entry fee or coupons from the vendors. 

Use the opt-in form to set up a mailing list for a newsletter.  Use the newsletter to alert potential customers.  Send out a newsletter two weeks ahead, one week ahead, 3 days ahead and the day before.  Include a list of vendors, a map, parking instructions, directions from a variety of directions (not everyone knows where the venue is), etc.  Be informative and make it easy for the customer.  Ask vendors to forward to their mailing lists.

By Mark on March 24, 2011

One major problem is getting some of the Bay Area promoters to utilize the many free websites and local newspapers to advertise their events. Some just seem too lazy to bother or think that because the event has been going on for many years that it doesn’t require reminding the public that it’s going on.  The other type of promoter who has been in business for many years doesn’t want to hear any input from the vendors to help publicize the show feeling they know it all. Bringing in various media outlets with a free booth helps to advertise the event via newspapers, radio and tv stations.

By Bruce Krutel on April 2, 2011

Such great information.  It’s a good idea for all of us to remember and to remind others that we do and can make a difference.  All of the social sites are great resources!

By Jewelry by Luet and Co on April 12, 2011

I liked the ideas that your article listed as productive ways of bringing awareness to the public regarding the upcoming events that your business will be participating in. Emailing notices out on a limited basis appealed to me, and the fliers definately caught my attention.
Does having an open-house coffee and cookies preview for neighbors and close-by customers work- prior to a fair, or is that counter productive? Finding your articles very helpful.

By Sue - on June 30, 2011

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