(Are you looking for a helpful post about An Affair of the Heart? See here.)
Or any craft show, really. These are just a few observations I made while fighting may way through the crowds of mostly 40+ women who flock to this biannual event at Oklahoma City’s State Fair Park (back in the fall). And get excited! It’s happening again this weekend! Head out to the fair grounds on February 6, 7, and 8 for this fantastic display of things rich women with nothing better to do bought at Market and marked up by 300% crafty talent. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy AAotH, but gracious me–every crazy, countrified craft you can think of ends up in this place. And then the most annoying of all are the booths that look the same–the ones where you can tell they all went to Market on the same weekend and came home with all the same goods (ridiculous shirts that have a shot of Paris in the background with the word “Chocolat” emblazoned across the bosom in faux rhinestones…give me a break). But here you go vendors! A consumer’s (tongue-in-cheek) list of ways to succeed at An Affair of the Heart.
1. Food. You’ll block an entire aisle’s worth of booths if you offer a free sample of any edible item. Shoot, it doesn’t even have to be edible. You could probably stir some hot tar in with a little cream cheese and dill, slap a label on it (“Black Gold Bean Dip” would be a winner with this crowd), set out some tortilla chips and wait.
2. OU/OSU. Tote bags are usually the best way to go with this, though I can see a lot of potential in throw pillows made out of trash bags (white with the red ties for OU, black with the orange ties for OSU). Why has no one tried this?!
3. Pet apparel. If you can personalize this stuff–even better. And collars with charms to spell out names are especially great. They can double as bracelets or you could even use them to jazz up your child’s leash once they are big enough to walk and no longer ride in the stroller you are using as a shopping cart to block the way of the 100 people walking behind you. Sorry. Lost my train of thought… Arrange your booth in such a way that everyone has to file through in a line and once they’re inside there’s no turning back. They are forced to look at every item because of that one Tri Delt with her mom who can’t decide if Abigail Persephone, her Min Pin, would prefer purple or pink. Get with the program honey, you’re a Tri Delt. Cerulean blue.
4. Things painted on saws. I cannot see the appeal and there is very little I can comment on here. Sorry. Yeah, I know, this is a blog and I’m supposed to write things to entertain you.
5. Faith, Hope, Love OR Live, Laugh, Love OR Sing like no one’s listening…yada yada. SIGNAGE. My hatred for this stuff is something that I am incapable of expressing. If I were to try to verbalize it, it would be some guttural death growl. And that Mark Twain quote? I challenge you to find more than a dozen booths that DON’T feature it in some way. I will give you cookies if you do. Here’s a thought on this one–go against the grain. Don’t use the most tuckered out quote that half the females on the internet put in their “favorite quotes” section on whatever social network they’re using, thinking they are original and livelaughloving life like no one’s done before. Or go ahead and do it and make money. Wow, this makes me seem angsty. Other signs that are ridiculous and garner close to the same amount of hatred: Paris, Chocolat, It’s All About Me, If Mama Ain’t Happy Ain’t Nobody Happy…I can’t go on.
6. Crosses. You can’t go wrong. Especially not in Oklahoma. I’m not sure that I ever had a conversation with a person who didn’t at least claim to be a Christian until I came to OU. Popular materials to construct crosses with: fence posts, barbed wire, sheet metal. For some women, crosses seem to be to them what very big trucks are to their husbands. I’m not going to elaborate on that, but if you know what I mean, feel free to give me a wink. I’d like to know that I’m not alone in thinking this.
7. Random photographs with shapes that might be construed as letters of the alphabet and placed in a frame to spell out your last name or first name or SOONERS. The first year these things were at AAotH the booth didn’t even bother to have any on hand other than display pieces. It looked like that was a smart idea because it forced people to make a decision: do I place an order or do I attempt to live my life without this work of art in my very Southern Living, Country Sampler-fied home? And I can tell you that year people were placing orders right and left. The booth was crazy busy and the ladies working it barely had a moment to breath the few times I passed them. But the second year? There were no fewer than 5 booths selling the same thing. I don’t know whose original idea it was, but the moral of the story is that you MUST be one of two things at this show. A complete sell-out (Market goods crowd) or so original you aren’t going to be able to take care of all the people who want to buy your product.
I’ll take the latter of those two any day, but if you do fall into that spot at a show one thing you have to accept is that next year someone else is going to be cashing in on what you created that year before and they may even be better. I grew up in the craft show circuit (it’s not much different from being a Ren Faire kid–free craft fair food, your run of the place, and all the wooden swords and popguns you could want) and sometimes I feel that urge to create something kitschy and fantastic and sure to suck in a certain portion of the female population. Then I remember what it was like to unload tables from a trailer and set them up in a fair barn that smelled like pigs until enough cinnamon scented candles had been lit and orange spice potpurri was lining the aisles. Hanging crafts from hooks on pegboards before we’d even had breakfast. I remember how Mom would be up until all hours of the night to get one last doll sewn or just a few more pinecone Christmas trees flocked. And I think I’m content (for now, because who knows how I’ll feel when I have slave labor children) to roam the aisles without the added burden of thieving people’s ideas.