Mount Dora is a quaint historic town surrounding Lake Dora in Lake County, Florida. They have wonderful festivals of art
and patrons come from all over the country to attend.
I applied for the Mount Dora spring show in hopes of our family experiencing a
large show and to sell enough feed sack totes to keep printing
our books in time for the big homeschool convention.
My sister, Candace came from north Florida to join us in the booth next door. She is an artist of different mediums and has traveled the country for years doing shows. I thought she could show us the ropes so we did not seem like such newbies!
As usual, my expectations were curbed by details that I had not considered.
We set up Friday night, in the rain. My mom had one of the EZ up tents
that most people use at outdoor shows. We had set it up before, but
using weights to tie it down and attaching sides was another story. After
two hours of a Giles comedy show, my normally even
keeled husband was quite irritated.
Grant and Grayson were with us and spent their time walking around
talking with the other vendors. Most had come by and introduced themselves and
offered a hand. Everyone was very nice and many knew each other from other events.
I soon realized that this was not an event for loners. These people are
making a living for their families with the art and crafts they create,
and they are part of a larger family of crafters that care about each other.
Saturday morning set up came before daylight and the streets were dry
and it was a beautiful cool day. Candace was next door and Curtis and the
boys were with me. Grayson wanted to practice his selling skills for our
upcoming convention, so I outfitted him with an apron and put him to work.
All of our customers were incredibly kind and in wonder about what we have done with empty feed sacks. Most were yearly visitors to this show and knew that this was our first time. Within two hours we made our investment back. Grayson formed a sales pitch that was bringing in customers, whether they were interested in the bags or the boy we weren’t sure!
Other vendors came by to hear our story as they shared theirs.
Welcoming us into the vendor fold. A hatmaker across the way, which I
own one of her hats that my mother purchased years ago, and a woodworker two
tents down, who makes beautiful cutting boards from rare woods. Grant spent
most of his time in that booth. A jewelry maker at the end of our row, that
focuses on soldering antique china into wearable art.
The writer in me emerged as I wanted to know their stories and what keeps them on the road year after year, show after show. I discovered that their passions for their art outweighed a 9 to 5 job. Many were older people who do this in retirement, but quite a few do this as their sole source of income. Traveling up to 25 events a year. Some shows are good, some not, but it evens out to keep them creating work they love. These weren’t hobby artists like me, they were following their passion as a life pursuit. Wow.
It was inspiring.
As usual, the path I came to this show to follow was not what God had in mind.
I needed quick cash to keep following my passion for my book and homeschooling.
Using our hobby of tote bags made from animal feed sacks was going to pay for
some needed supplies for our debut convention. We made 75 bags and I have
bloody fingertips from pins to prove it!
I figured I would not want to see one of those bags for a very long time after this show.
Although we did make what was necessary, I also learned about how other people lived their lives, and they weren’t homeschoolers. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the small world we live in within our circle of activities. I forget there is a whole world out there of fascinating people. My children had conversations with people from all over the country, they heard their stories about childhood that the feed sacks reminded them of. They were praised by strangers for their efforts in selling their craft. We had moments of boredom, tiredness and wondering why we worked so hard for a month to do this.
In the end.. All of us were rejuvenated. I got to know my sister better
and have a great story we can share together. We traded our goods with the hat
lady and got beautiful hats of our own to wear too!
We posted to Facebook about where we were and a couple of friends
showed up to see us that we haven’t seen in a few years,
my friend Christine and her daughters came out and my Uncle Kenny
and friend Debbie came to support our cause also.
We enjoyed the reunion.
Grant was gifted a beautiful cutting board. He had admired it for two days
at the woodworker’s tent two doors down. The man was impressed with Grant’s
interest and gave it to him at the end of the show. Grayson’s self-esteem
and conversational skills were honed even sharper and encouraged by
people other than his parents.
We were invited to be exhibitors at a show in North Florida at the end of the year,
by the Jewelry family we met. We also want to apply for the next show in
Mount Dora that is in October! I guess I was inspired to make more feedsack
totes instead of packing them away.
( Papa and Nana)
Our family was blessed by the opportunity to experience something totally different than our normal lives. I am thankful, even though it has taken most of my life to figure out, that opening my eyes to the world around me and experience
what others have to offer truly is a gift.
It could be a few words, it could be their actions or a story they share. All of it gives us a new perspective on the world around us and the people in it. That was what God had in mind for my family on this adventure. Monetary gain is not always the answer. Sharing our faith, our journeys and our passions is what life on this earth is about.
What will you experience today that will inspire you to continue your journey,
your passions? It might not occur in a crowd of people, it may be a subtle gesture.
Be open to accept HIS plan, even when it is not what you had in mind.