In 2008, we finally decided to take a leap and do a festival. My brother and his family live in Arlington, TX and they said they thought the Deep Ellum Arts Festival would be worth trying. So we juried, got in and in April, we loaded up our minivan (including stuff strapped to the luggage rack!) and made the 12 hour drive to Dallas. Our kids were 10 and 13 and we were paying for braces and life and homeschooling so sinking $1500+ (travel, loss of work, kennel, etc) into a 3 day art festival felt...terrifying.
We really didn't know what we were doing. Our booth was cobbled together. We forgot things and had to drive in a new huge city to find a hardware store for supplies. It was very stressful, but our kids were seeing a new place and we got to visit with family. And we just hoped that we would make back our investment.
The show started on Friday evening. The kids and I alternated between walking the festival, eating festival food, going into shops and we even braved driving to some shopping areas (I was terrified, but determined!) We also had our first experience with the dogs of festivals- one of our favorite parts.
People came in and looked, carrying their beers. Someone bought a $30 head. Yes, those used to exist. At the end of the evening, we had made $39. Needless to say, we were scared and a bit discouraged. If you're an artist or you are close to one, you know about the times of self-doubt that can happen. I think most (if not all) artists have those times of wondering if their work is relevant, especially if you're trying to make your living from your art work. It's compounded when there's been a financial investment and you're also raising a family. David had been dealing with some of that before we went to Dallas and I really felt that this trip would be a turning point for good or bad.
I will forever remember the next day as THE BEGINNING. People came in and...it was amazing. The booth was PACKED. And it stayed packed. People were smiling, laughing, buying. It isn't just about making money, although that was important. There's this thing that happens that I love to witness. People see David's work and their faces change. I see them light up. There were older women laughing and pointing pieces out to each other. Young men and women in groups, couples, teens, families. No certain age range, no specific demographic. And they bought and laughed and brought their friends back to look.
We made our expenses. But we also developed such a love for Dallas. For the trip, the place and most of all, for the people. We've made friends there. David remembers people, their families, their names and the heads they bought. We have artist friends, people we trade with, people we look forward to seeing every year. He has a following there and the people are kind and gracious and encouraging. We've gone back every single year since then. Our kids are now 18 and 22 and they don't travel with us much anymore. Life is different and we know we won't always be driving to Dallas. But Deep Ellum Arts Festival will forever be where our festival life began. Thank you, Dallas♡
Thanks for reading~~