Blueberry Festival- Day 1

There is a term "Jump The Shark" usually used to explain that moment when you are watching your favorite television show, and one odd thing happens, and you think "Its all downhill from here"… I like to use the term for any sort of entertainment that does one thing that makes it loose its integrity, thus possibly starting a downward spiral that even Harry Potter doesn't have enough magic in him to stop. Its hard to spot unless you frequent them for many years, and really pay attention, but craft festivals are one thing that defiantly has the ability to jump the shark.

I think this may be the year that the Blueberry Festival has made the jump…

Day 1 wasn't a bad day sales wise, and if I were at any other show I would be more than pleased with the outcome. But yesterday felt way down in attendance: it may be the heat, or the fact that a nearby bridge is out, lessening traffic and making it harder to get into the festival site, or the fact that they changed weekends and now there is a festival in a nearby town to compete with. Any of these things on their own are enough to lower attendance and thus sales but the three combined just may be the "perfect storm" of a craft festival. But these things are things I can ignore for a year. They are things that make me think that I'll try again for another year (or maybe two) before deciding whether or not to leave the show. They are things that can easily be changed, thus bringing the festival back from the brink of doom.

But as for jumping the shark… that is due to a whole separate reason. I have loved this show for years because of its integrity. It has been a place where artisans and crafters that do period crafts, or are founded in period crafts could show their wares without the competition from Chinese imports or things made from kits, or krafts (things that take little or no real skill or ability to make or assemble). It allows artisans that do work by hand, that take a large amount of labor and skill to complete, to actually get a fair price for their work. Examples include wood turners, basket makers, broom makers, etc…The Burnside Plantation where the show takes place is period and until this show, previous shows focused on 18th and 19th century crafts. Crafts could have a modern twist (like me) but needed to have a foundation in the past and most needed to be able to engage the attendees on how the craft has changed from the 18th or 19th centuries till now. But this year there were a few examples of non-period crafts, as well as a few examples of non-artisan made crafts (complete with the Made in Russia labels). This not only hurts the overall integrity of the show, but the real artisans have to fight against cheaper goods, against more modern goods, and will eventually leave the show and go elsewhere where they are appreciated more. It makes you think "what will they let in next year" and "are they really only doing this for the money, not for the promotion of the old ways, the education of the attendees". And if I paid my $6 to attend a special show and just saw stuff that I could see at the free street fair one town over, I wouldn't be back next year plunking down my $6, would you?

We will have to wait a few years to determine if 2005 is when the Blueberry Festival at Burnside Plantation jumped the shark…

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