SPWF 2016 – A Delightful Disaster

Anyone who has been following my Facebook would know that this was my first year as a vendor at Steampunk World’s Fair.  I was super excited to be there vending my wares in the midway – a parking-lot-turned-vending-space between the two hotels that house the Eastern Coast’s biggest Steampunk Festival.

I had a ton of hats made up and ready, all the ones pictured below in this Stack-O-Hats, and more!

Stack-O-Hats! by auralynne

And I also brought a smattering of the custom made clothing you see in my etsy shop – photo shoot samples, and a new line of ready-to-wear items that you’ll all see in the opening of my website store soon.

I arrived late Friday afternoon via rift in the space time continuom (AKA the strange route Google Maps took me when the Tappan Zee Bridge was closed), a bit later than I had hoped.  And I got a taste of Mother Nature and Murphy’s Law working in cahoots – which I hoped was the last for the weekend – drizzling rain, and a completely wet vending space/table/chairs.

But that’s what paper towels are for, right?  I did succeed in setting up my popup vending tent, did my best at drying things off inside it, and then proceeded to do my best at getting all the things I had brought inside the tent without drenching them…

I was mostly successful at setting things up by early Friday evening – and the fun started then.  I’m a work at home Mom – so most of my interaction either happens with young children, a computer screen, or a sewing machine.  So getting to vend my wares in person and actually talk to customers is a delight.

Things continued in that enjoyable fashion until Saturday afternoon – when Mother Nature came back, with a vengeance!  The wind picked up to crazy gusty levels, and I discovered that vending tents, even when weighted down, work very similar to the sails on a sailboat.  The strength of this wind was such that, it managed to even drag ME across the parking lot, shoes slipping on the asphalt as I attempted to hold on to my billowing tent!

Every vendor in the Midway had to tear down, or at least lower their tent, in order not to be completely blown away.  In the mess, about half of my hats and fascinators turned into parking lot tumbleweeds.  Another vendor jokingly made this statement – which pretty much sums things up: “Looks like someone forgot to close the circle when they made the sacrifice to the vendor gods…”

There was good, there was bad, and there was the ugly.  The ugly was the damage sustained by my tent – a bent frame, and the hats-turned-tumbleweeds that had bent and broken feathers.  The bad was Sunday’s weather forecast.  More wind.  Impossible to safely set back up outside with a bent tent frame.  But there was good too – I was struck by how awesome everyone was – customers, event staff, and better-prepared vendors alike jumped in to help both me and my sister (vending her jewelry next to me) when our tents did their sailboat-impression.  They ran after tumbleweed hats, and held down the fort long enough for me to scramble across the hotel parking lot to grab my car.

It was a disastrous experience, of course, but it was also amazing to see how supportive our steampunk community really is.

The next day the awesome vendor staff at the fair managed to find a spot inside a hotel hallway to squeeze some of the unfortunate Midway vendors.  Since a good portion of my stuff needed repairs, I chose to let the full-table slots go to other vendors, and I set things up at a corner of my sister’s table and around her stuff – a few of my fascinators that had miraculously survived with no damage.

And beyond that, I made it my mission to enjoy the rest of the fair!  I went klepto on a couple of my photo shoot sample outfits,  as “consolation prizes” – and enjoyed the attention and requests for pictures that I always get while wearing my fanciest designs.

A quick cellphone shot of consolation prize #1.  Isn't the Embassy terrarium gorgeous? :D
A quick cellphone shot of consolation prize #1. Isn’t the Embassy terrarium gorgeous? 😀

I’m looking forward to/hoping for next year – if there is room for me inside, I’ll be again vending.  I consider this to be a learning experience – humidity, wind, and feathers do NOT mix – apparently my designs are not conducive to outside vending!

To everyone who shopped and/or chatted with me at the Fair, it was great meeting you, and I hope to see you again next year!