Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Working the Shows Wednesday - Autmn Festival - An Arts & Crafts Affair

We extended our Omaha stay by an extra day so I could attend the 27th Annual Autumn Festival - An Arts & Crafts Affair. I’ve attended this fantastic show in the past but have not been in town for the last three years so I really wanted to get there this visit.

Held at the beautiful and roomy Quest Center in downtown Omaha, this show features 400 artists and craftspeople and runs for four days. This year’s dates were November 5-8. An admission fee of $7 per person is charged but discount coupons abound. It seems two coupons are included in the daily paper for at least two weeks prior to the show and post cards are filled out by each attendee which serve two purposes. First, hourly door prizes are drawn from the post card boxes qualifying winners for $30 gift certificates good at any booth at the show. Then, the post cards are used to notify shoppers prior to the next show and serve as discount admission coupons when presented at the door.
The show is well attended on all four days. We went on Thursday and arrived about a half hour after the doors opened. We had about a ten minute line to get in at that point. It looked like a march for a cause to see the women (yes, it was mostly women) coming across the road from the parking lots. (Quest Center has plenty of parking available for a nominal fee.) Folks came prepared to shop, equipped with those fold-up shopping carts, large tote bags with wheels and some even brought along wheeled luggage to load their merchandise! This show features the best selection of affordable crafts I’ve ever found at a large show. Just about any craft you can think of is represented and none strike you as overpriced for what they are. In fact, I wonder how some can be sold for the prices they are marked. There were quite a few items I felt I had the talent and skills to make if I desired but did not feel I could produce one for the selling price. One can accomplish a lot of Christmas shopping here as well as decorate the home with all sorts of unique holiday themed pieces. The place was mobbed and folks were buying. One often had to wait in line to pay for purchases. It took us well over four and a half hours to walk the show !

A great selection of food is available but does lean to the pricier side. Choices include American BBQ like ribs, chicken and such, Greek specialties, Philly cheese steaks, Indian and Asian foods, and Mexican selections as well as pastries, salads and more. The one strange aspect is that most of the food vendors do not offer beverages. You must get your meal and then find another stand to get a drink. This is complicated when you are also balancing your many purchases while maneuvering through the crowd. Soda pop- is only available from one stand and there is a fresh lemonade stand. One or two of the others offer versions of iced tea at a premium price per cup. There was a specialty coffee vendor with cappuccino available. There is light entertainment throughout the day all four days and there is a sizeable seating area available near the food vendors. We were able to find seats at a table fairly easy this time but in the past have experienced difficulty locating a seat.

Regularly ranked in the Top 100 Shows by Sunshine Artists, the event is produced by Huffman Productions, Inc. out of Boys Town, Nebraska (which is actually a part of Omaha). The Huffmans both come from a craft background and have the advantage of seeing the craftsman’s perspective as well as the promoter’s point of view. Their exhibitors are treated well and return year after year. They are happy to learn you are a returning customer and eager to show you the year’s new merchandise lines. (We have purchased personalized ornaments for the children in the family each year from the same crafter and look forward to the new designs.)

I have considered doing this juried show in the past, if I could get in. However, I have hesitated as it is a long show and sales volume is so great I have doubts as to whether I could produce enough merchandise. I would also need to rent a larger vehicle to transport my merchandise cross country. Many of these sellers travel in a large RV and tow trailers, too.

It is an expensive show to do. As with most premier convention center locales, the space rental is sizeable. If you can’t support minimal expenses of $700 to $1000, don’t even think about it. The average tends to run closer to $1,500. I think the venue is fairly priced for what it is and for what the promoters deliver. (You are paying for a top-notch show.)

While not an issue for us, if you do not have a live aboard vehicle, lodging is a major consideration as the show is held in downtown Omaha and convention type prices prevail. I spoke with one gentleman who claimed the best hotel rates were at the casinos across the river in Council Bluffs, Iowa (about a 15 minute drive) but I have to wonder about the practicality of staying in a casino. How much profit might one be tempted to risk?

If you are just looking for a great show to visit and shop, consider one of the Huffman’s shows. They also do a Spring Festival at the Quest Center (April 9,10 and 11, 2010) as well as shows in Minneapolis, the Chicago area, and Sioux Falls, SD. You can check out their website at


♥ Teresa ♥ said...

Sounds like you had a great time! I would think staying at a hotel with a casino would not be very wise if you were there to MAKE money! LOL! I have a couple of really great friends I have made online who live near Omaha. I would LOVE to visit them sometime. Heck, I would love to live up there. It seems like a wonderful place. They get snow several times a year but it's not there all winter long. My kind of place! :0)

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for leaving sweet words of encouragement. I truly appreciate it. I hope to see you again soon.

Have a great day!

Teresa <><

Audrey said...

I would love to see that show!! Looks like a really great time, but I wonder how some of the shops do, if they get lost in all the people and other items to look at. It would take me hours to see it all - but it would be so much fun!! :)

readingsully2 said...

Looks like you had a fabulous time. I just don't have the energy required to do shows. Good for you though. :)