So… we had to get right the way through 2020, all the way to the middle of September, before a craft show actually took place!
I helped out at Craft in Focus’s Hever Castle Arts & Craft Show in Kent the other weekend (just a few days before the “Rule of Six” came in). It was the very first show of 2020, all others having been cancelled due to Covid of course – and a very interesting experience it was too!
Craft in Focus have been organising craft shows for many many years, and did a good job in making this one Covid-friendly and yet fun & successful. It’s difficult to know exactly how to arrange large gatherings at present - how can you ensure social distancing without offending everyone and making the craft show a joyless experience? But they did it well – with a few provisos:
all customers had to book their tickets in advance online – and were given specific entry times.
This meant that the craft marquees didn’t get too full up in the mornings.
BUT no exit times were given:
you didn’t have a set hour or two hours to walk around, but could come in at a certain time and spend the rest of the day at the show.
And thus, while the craft marquees were quite clear in the mornings, by the afternoons they were absolutely jam-packed…
(I believe the RHS gardens & National Trust properties are doing this “timed entry” as well – and it does mean that you have to watch yourself as the day goes on…)
- once customers came into the castle grounds, they followed a clearly marked out one way system which had Craft in Focus stewards standing at vital junctions.
This worked well and customers passed around very smoothly – no clogs or bottlenecks and very few people went the wrong way.
AND the one way system actually proved advantageous for those of us in Marquee A. Last year (the first year of this show) customers seemed to have trouble finding Marquee A - it’s slightly tucked away behind a hedge, so we received rather few visitors…
MUCH busier this year as the one way system took everyone straight to our door 😊
where they had to queue to get in…
Visitors were allowed to wander freely when they were out in the open air; some of the stands were positioned outside, as were the live music and coffee tables -
and Hever has absolutely beautiful gardens to wander around.
BUT when you reached a marquee you had to join the queue – just like at your local Post Office. Customers waited 2 metres apart and were allowed entry by the steward on the door.
This worked well, all apart from the fact that there was no steward at the other end, monitoring the people exiting the marquee.
And many people did stay inside for a lonnngggg time… So, once again, it did get pretty crowded every so often.
I was helping to sell handbags for Barry of Hide and Seek Accessories - see his stand picture above and find him at https://www.hideandseekaccessories.com
Before the show all sellers received instructions to say that:
- we should wear masks
- all customers should wear masks
- that we were to allow no more than 2 people on the stand at a time (difficult because, between the two of us, there were already two people on the stand!)
- customers would be asked not to pick things up, but instead to ask the seller to show them the product. We then had the choice to allow touching or not
The masks were a problem though, because no one could actually hear what we were saying though them – and we couldn’t hear our customers!
So, of course, we all leaned forwards trying to hear, well within the 2 metres… Never mind!
On the second day I replaced my mask with one of those clear visors, which are much easier to deal with.
Everyone could hear what I said, plus they could see my face – and it’s SO much easier to understand someone when you can see their facial expression.
Just about everyone who came did wear a mask and it was great fun to watch all the different masks parade past.
This being Hever, there were a lot of very nice homemade masks, plus fabric masks that had been bought in (lots of beautiful Liberty prints and cheerful floral patterns!) - and very few of the single use disposable masks, I’m glad to say…
For us on the stands, it was an enjoyable show. SO lovely to be out & about again, mixing with other people, chatting, having a good time – just like the old days!
And I know our customers felt the same because they told us.