We did it, we packed our tables, some of our jewelry and some of our (I say some, because we have a warehouse full of these wonderful treasures) Murano Glass Vases, Bowls and Bottles, Mirrors, Animals, Fish, Aquariums into a large commercial van and drove over the bay. The last couple of days before the fair, the fact that it would be outdoors and in a meadow began to concern me. What kind of critters would invade our booth? Were there bugs, snakes or who knows? Clearly I have been living in the city for too long. I should have been worried about the slope of the ground and the holes found in all such pastoral locations.
We are used to doing large shows, inside hotels, convention centers around the US. So we expected a layout to be forthcoming showing us exactly where our booths would be. The engineer among us likes to take graph paper, little scaled to size pieces of paper representing the tables and lay everything out, calculating how many square feet will be available, allowing of course for foot traffic. Well having now participated, I understand the general casualness which I mistook for a lackadaisical attitude. It’s a pasture and space is plentiful and boundaries less rigid.
But it was an Italian Renaissance Fair, so no modern equipment such as tents, tent poles, folding tables, cash registers (alas all of you who have shopped with us know we bar code everything). A little research proved that burlap existed in some form in this period which takes in the 14th Century until sometime in the 16th Century. It existed, but the dust and particles from cutting it were not in our plans. Soon we were all sneezing. There were some elaborate tents, owned by the production group. It took several hours for them to put these up, complicated by the fact that the poles had been mislabeled by the last group, providing some entertainment for us.
And costumes, we were given strict dress codes. No tattoos showing, no ear piercing (gauges), no steam punk costumes, no Mediaval, wrong century, no Elizabethan costumes, wrong country! But we were warned that the people coming to the show would probably have all of this and more (or less in the case of two guys who really had on no clothes, no joke) or the guy in the kilt with no top (and I will leave it to you to guess what he had on under the kilt).
The weather was good except that we were near the bay (well where the Sacramento River flows into the bay) and we had 25 knot winds which gusted and swirled. For those of you who are not boaters, 25 knots is roughly 28.7695 mph. When the gusts persisted, our fragile wineglasses and vases got boxed up. The great outdoors is no place for our Murano Glass, even though it is certainly appropriate for the Renaissance era as the furnaces in Murano had been in production long before the beginning of the Renaissance.
We learned that many of the properly attired people were part of the faire, that is to say, they are paid performers, complete with W9s (tax forms) at the end of the show.
There was plenty of food and wine. We even met a man from Treviso, Italy (near Venice) he was catering at the event and small world that Veneto is, we have mutual acquaintances. His wife is from a nearby town in California and they have a son, Luca. Emily, his wife, works on their bookings, they will even come to your house and prepare for you. In the true Venetian way, he was cutting about 15 pounds of calamari which he fried. It was sumptuous.
So here’s Marco and Emily’s facebook page address. InspiredinItaly
My concern over security at the festival was wasted….Many of the exhibitors actually sleep in the festival. And they have weapons!
In the booth selling drinks, their was Latte, but no cappuccino (surely they had this in the Renaissance era!) but I talked the barista into cutting the amount of milk for a cappuccino. Second day the owner was there. He said of course he made cappuccino, but they took it off the list because they got tired of explaining what a cappuccino is.
Now as to what I learned! Wear your costume, go have fun, eat the food, drink the wine, but NEVER EVER get talked into being an exhibitor in the great outdoors! Anyplace that doesn’t know what a cappuccino is, is not for me ;>)