Craft Fair Displays – Wind and A Bad, Pretty Idea

Oh how we love fall in our household. We spend as many days as possible roaming the mountains looking for a kaleidoscope of fall leaves and fall festivals. Last weekend was no exception.

Our destination was Maggie Valley, NC. Maggie is on the way to Cherokee and the casino. It’s a small town that has transformed itself into a tourist shop as thousands of travelers pass through on their way to the casino. Along the way, they turned themselves into a destination in their own right and the main drag is full of gift shops and hotels.

The scenery in Maggie and the road to Cherokee are worth the trip if you are ever in the area. Every season of the year puts on it’s own spectacular display. But, if you visit in the winter, many of the shops, restaurants and even hotels will be closed for the season.

Enough about Maggie Valley, on to the craft show…

We had been to this event once before. It is a fairly compact show at the fairgrounds that draws primarily local artisans and crafters. We did purchase a small watercolor, which the artist signed for me, but there were only a handful of folks that had something we hadn’t seen before.

The worst part of the event was the uninvited guest who greatly impacted the success of the participants – the wind. The gusts were horrific. Participants and visitors alike would grab onto tent supports holding onto them to prevent the tents from going airborne. Merchandise was literally flying off of display racks and tables and display stands were falling over. It was almost to the point where the event probably should have been canceled for safety reasons.

Following a particularly strong gust came a loud crash. Moans of sympathy came from all over the grounds because everyone knew what the crash meant for one of the artisans – lost merchandise. The victim was the painted glass booth. An entire shelf of product was in a heap on the grass. Thankfully, no one was hurt by the glass or falling shelves. The disaster probably could have been avoided though as it was the craft show display shelves themselves which factored into the loss.

We’ve all seen them and I for one think they are a clever idea. They make up easy, the pack easy and look very professional – craft show display shelves made from a pair of shutters. The shelves are made by simply removing a pair of slats and sliding the shelf in between them. After the incident at Maggie, I would strongly urge crafters to avoid using this type of craft fair display shelving completely.

The wind simply pushed the shelf over. A six foot tall, closed shutter standing with little support other than the shutter itself was an accident waiting to happen in those weather conditions. They were the only ones to suffer actual breakage while we were there and the only ones using shutters for shelves.

I’ve always liked the look of display stands made out of shutters. They make a booth look much more like a shop with permanent shelving and make a wonderful backdrop for just about any handmade item. However, the event in Maggie Valley was not the first time I’ve seen those shelves go down. A year or so ago, we were attending another event in the area and much lighter winds tipped one of those shelves right onto us. We had been talking to the artisan at the time and three of us were able to catch her shelves but several of her items hit the blacktop pavement. She grew, dried and decorated her own gourds and sadly one of them cracked from the fall.

At another event, we saw someone lean on a set of these shelves and almost topple the entire booth over. Fortunately, the shelves didn’t fall and none of the artisan’s wares were damaged. Had they fallen, it probably would have impacted two other booths as well.

I would strongly urge anyone using this sort of shelving to look into either devising a base of some kind that would make them more stable or leave them exclusively for indoor shows. I don’t know the law, but had that flying painted glass or shelving injured someone, the artisan may have even been liable for any resulting medical expenses.

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