Arts and Crafts Shows In Ontario
Every summer I meet new artists or crafters that want feedback and tips about the show circuit. I am always open to share all the information I have learned along the way. I learned a lot from other artists and artisans because I have asked a lot of questions. I am grateful for those that were generous with their time and knowledge and I only want to pass it forward.
Many crafters use the guide that is provided by the Ontario Craft Council but beware of the info in the guide as it is sometimes misleading. Always try to talk to numerous well seasoned crafters/artists before going to a new show to see if it may be a ‘fit’ for your art or craft specialty. In our first years we ended up at some shows that promised 10,000 attendees but had far less. Also, if the other vendors are not selling professional, unique, Canadian made art and crafts then it really doesn’t matter even if a lot of people do attend. What you don’t want is to be set up along with booths that resell manufactured goods or cheap crafts. You also don’t want to be part of a show where the arts and crafts are a side show to the main event, like a corn or rib fest. Most important is that the right interested, knowledgeable, appreciative crowd for your art or craft shows up.
Beware of organizers, not all of them conduct honest business practices. We had been told by a few of them that their shows were the best of the region When we showed up, everyone around us was a first time there: which means that previous crafters did not come back and that the show depends on foolish crafters that didn’t do their homework. The organizers do very little marketing so few attend and you waste a whole weekend.
If it is a new show, ask where the artists and crafters will be located. Pride Toronto one year moved all the artists to a location where no one walked by and they advertised that we would have 1 million potential customers going by our booth… This did not happen. Just be professional and ask all the questions you can before going to any show.
Then, realize that every show has a slightly different feel and crowd. Some shows are good for some kind of crafters but not so good for others. Having a bad weekend is part of the artist’s life, over the years you learn to have equanimity with the ups and downs and realize that we simply learn from experience.
I will focus in this article in outlining the Arts &Crafts shows that I feel are worth a try, afterward, you still have to do your homework and judge for yourself as each show has its own artistic slant.
Arts & Crafts Shows
March: Toronto Spring One Of A Kind (Excellent Show)
April: Ottawa Signatures Arts & Crafts show (Excellent Show)
June: Windsor Arts & Crafts show (Excellent Show), Toronto Beaches Arts & Crafts show (Not good for everyone), Newmarket Fairy Lake Arts & Crafts show (Not good for everyone)
July: Cobourg Waterfront Festival (Good show), Kingston Arts & Crafts show (Good show), London Sunfest (Not good for everyone), London Home County Music and Art Festival (Excellent show), Picton Arts & Crafts show (Good show – I have never done it), Haliburton Arts & Crafts show (Good show), Muskoka Arts & Crafts show (Good show)
August: Kempenfest Arts & Crafts show (Excellent show – Not good for everyone), Gravenhurst Arts & Crafts show (Good show)
September: Cabbagetown Arts & Crafts show (Good show), Kleinburg Arts & Crafts show (Not good for everyone)
October Cala Arts & Crafts show (Not good for everyone), Balls Falls Arts & Crafts show (Excellent show), Ottawa Signatures Arts & Crafts show (Excellent show)
November: Nepean Arts & Crafts show (Not Good for Everyone), Guelph Fair November (Excellent show), Sudbury Keepsakes Arts & Crafts show (Good show), North Bay Keepsakes Arts & Crafts show (Good show), Toronto One of a Kind Christmas show (Excellent Show)
February : The Artist’s Project
April: Toronto Art Crawl
June: Riverdale Artwalk
July: Toronto Outdoor Art Show
July: Toronto Outdoor Art Show
August : Buckhorn Fine Art Show, Amherstburg Art By The River
October: Beaches Studio Tour, Queen West Art Show
You can also check the shows from the Distillery and Toronto Art Crawl, they host a few shows a year which I have never done but I know many artists and crafters that do.
If your work is a fit for the festival crowd you could look into:
July: Guelph Hillside Festival, Orillia Mariposa Folk Festival, London Home County Festival
August: Owen Sound Summerfolk, Riverfest in Elora
Note that sometimes small local events are a good place to be. For example I have made really good sales by showing up for 2 hours before Christmas at my kid’s school or at other small local sales. Don’t hesitate to be creative with where you can sell your work.
All applications are usually due between January and March. All of them receive many applications so make sure that your presentation is at its best, especially the photos of your work have to be very professional. Also double check that you are sending everything exactly in the format that the jury requests. Understand that the jury is going through a lot of applications and you want your work to stand out So be clear and concise and show your best and most consistent work
Also, if you know of any good shows that I missed and you would like to share them, add a comment on this blog.
And most of all good luck!