This weekend, we were at the Tomato Art Fest. People who live in Nashville, specifically East Nashville, know all about this fantastic festival. But here is a little background, copied from tomatoartfest.com:
"Tomato Art Fest was founded by Meg and Bret MacFadyen, owners of East Nashville’s Art and Invention Gallery. In 2004, the gallery hosted an art show celebrating the tomato in late summer, and planned a few neighborhood events to promote the show. The Fest proved so popular that it immediately turned into an annual, signature event for the growing, hip, urban neighborhood of East Nashville. ".
We've done this festival for...7 years...we *think*. Pretty sure it's been 7 years, and we LOVE it. It's one of the most FUN festivals we do.
East Nashville is a great place, with a real sense of community and pride. It's been growing and improving and is described as "historic, eclectic and hip" and "one of the most desired areas" by visitmusiccity.com. We certainly have a lot of fun any time we visit. But, we were there first to work. We live an hour and a half away and set up was at 6 am for us. So we were up at 3:30am and on the road by 4am. We arrived a bit early and discovered most people had set up the day before so unloading was pretty quick and easy.
With 25+ festivals behind us, we have set up down to a mostly silent tag-team process. With this new set up, it took just under 2 hours.
Once we set up, we usually take a walk to check out the rest of the festival and say hi to our neighbors. Festival artists are a community. We help each other out, watch the booth if someone needs to go get food or to the restroom, compare travel stories and mishaps and generally just get to know each other.
When our kids went with us, I spent large parts of the day off with them, enjoying the festival activities. Tomato Art Fest has a really great kids' area and one year, our daughter won the contest where you dress up a tomato as a character. She got a HUGE prize basket! Here's a partial list of activities, and this doesn't even include just seeing art, eating really good food and watching people:
*Tomato King and Queen
*East Nashville Tomato 5k
*Giant Ice Cream Sundae Extravaganza
*Tomato Haiku Contest
*Tomato Fairy/Elf Contest
*Faux Paw Fashion Competition (yes, a pet fashion show!)
There is SO much to do, see, eat and drink. Everyone is there just for fun and to socialize, which is even more important right now. It's a really laid-back environment with cool music. People that live in the area have friends and family out on their porch. There are people dressed as tomatoes and in other crazy costumes. Highly recommend!
Anyway, these days I spend my time in the booth, talking to people and just watching. Honestly, to the people that come into our booth- YOU are our very favorite part of doing this. We love meeting you! We love your stories and your questions. I love seeing people discover David's work, or come back to buy a piece year after year. You are all so friendly and interesting. I truly don't ever remember a rude customer. Thank you, thank you for coming out to show your support to artists. You'll never know how much it means. It isn't about sales (those are great too, trust me!) It's about building relationships. David said, "I don't consider them customers, I consider them friends". He remembers you, from one year to the next. Some of you are hardcore collectors and come back to add to your collection, no matter how long it takes you to find us. (If you're planning to come see us at a festival, let us know ahead of time because we can usually give you our booth number and most festivals have a map of vendors).
I do take breaks to get us food or just to explore. As the artist, David stays in the booth almost the entire time. But I get to see awesome stuff:
There was one thing I saw that filled me with happiness and nostalgia:
I was gluten-free for a few years and this food truck SAVED me at a few different festivals. They have gluten-free bread. Find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They have 2 (or more?) trucks, so more than likely, you'll be able to get to some unbelievable grilled cheese in no time. Thank you, Grilled Cheeserie, for making my life easier and cheesier.
Of course, what would a festival be without dogs:
Tomato Art Fest, East Nashville and everyone who came out-- THANK YOU for a wonderful day! We always have a great time. And to anyone who hasn't gone, check it out next year. It's always around the second weekend in August and I promise you, you won't be disappointed. You'll see the sweetest babies, happiest families, friendliest artists and best dogs around. I guarantee you will find something there that you love.
I leave you all with a humorous moment. Our friend and fellow artist, Elliot (ewadeart- look him up on Instagram and Etsy) brought David some bones. He's also the first person to say he reads these so "Hi, Elliot!!" :) Then, this happened:
Tomato Art Fest. Five Points in East Nashville. We hope to be back next year and to see you all there. Come say hi- I promise you won't be bored.
Thanks for reading and for supporting art.