Sales fair to middling for vendors at festival
Post Independent Staff Writer
CARBONDALE- The heat and downpours of rain didn’t put a dent in the organizers’ enthusiasm for the 32nd Annual Mountain Fair, but left vendors with lower sales.
“Overall the vibe is just excellent,” said Thomas Lawley, executive director of the Carbondale Arts and Humanities Council, which puts on the event.
“I think the fair has been really good,” said CCAH board member Brian Winters.
Vendors at Mountain Fair still love the event as much as the organizers but said the weather played a part in lower sales.
Marshall Marinakis, of Prescott, Ariz., was selling his award-winning barbecue sauces, salsas, and hot sauces. He said that sales were good, but not as good as in years past. “This year’s going to be down,” he said.
“The rain kind of put a damper on things,” said Marinakis of the Saturday evening showers. “When the rain came everybody went to the beer tent.”
Some vendors were hoping for more sales on Sunday afternoon.
Nancy Lee Kaufman, who works out of Santa Fe, N.M., and Encinitas, Calif., said that her sales of her hand-made clothing were good on Friday evening, but were almost zero during Saturday’s heat.
“People come look and then Sunday make a purchase,” she said midday on Sunday.
Graystone Abbott, of Apple Valley, Utah, was in town selling hand-thrown Native American pottery. She said her sales were only a percentage of last year’s.
“I’ve done a 10th of last year,” she said early on Sunday afternoon.
“We’re all trying to figure out what it is,” she said of the lagging sales for vendors. “I’m sure it has to do with the economy.”
Still a great event
Despite lower than average sales for many of the vendors, most like coming to Mountain Fair.
Marinakis said Carbondale’s Mountain Fair and Strawberry Days in Glenwood are his two favorite fairs. He said likes Mountain Fair because he has loyal customers, it is in a beautiful area, and the promoters do a good job.
Kaufman also likes coming to Carbondale.
“This is one of the best shows I do all year,” said Kaufman, citing the laid-back nature of the crowd and the event in general.
D.L. Horton, of Albuquerque, was in Carbondale for the third year in a row selling glassware and jewelry and thinks the event works so well because of community support.
“It’s a show that shouldn’t work,” she said. “But it does because the community is so behind the event.”
The artists who exhibit work at Mountain Fair are selected by jury before they are invited to the event. The jury system leads to a higher quality of art than at other shows, said the artists.
“It’s one of the better ones,” said Sam Brown of Paonia. “The quality of the artwork is better.”
Lawley’s last one
The 32nd Annual Carbondale Mountain Fair was a special one for Lawley.
For the last 17 years Lawley has been the director of the CCAH and one of the people who put together the Mountain Fair each year. This year, however, he is retiring from the CCAH and will no longer be such a large part of Mountain Fair.
“It’s been great, fantastic,” said Lawley of his time with CCAH and the Mountain Fair.
“The Mountain Fair is a one-of-a-kind event,” he said. “Nothing else even resembles the community feel of Mountain Fair.”
Event organizers and volunteers will miss Lawley.
“He’s the spirit of the fair, he was born to do this,” said Dru Handy.
“Thomas is an excellent leader,” said volunteer Erek Dyskant, who this year made it through a 42-hour long bus ride from Buffalo, N.Y., to work the Mountain Fair.
“We’re certainly losing a great person,” said Dyskant.
Despite praise from many of the people he worked with, Lawley was quick to point to the efforts of everyone involved in the fair and the spirit of the fair itself.
“It couldn’t be done without the help of the volunteers,” said Lawley.
“It’s got a life of its own once we get it out of the bag,” he said.
It was an emotional weekend for Lawley. He said that he had been getting a lot of hugs from friends at the fair, and said he even got a little misty-eyed at times.
Lawley said it is just time to move on, but he doesn’t have other plans.
“I want to do something else, but I don’t know what it is,” he said.
Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 535
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