I’ve had a Threads of a Fairytale stall (apart from last year) at the New Forest Fairy Festival since it began, when it was little more than a small fairy market and a few volunteering bands on a tiny stage. Now it has grown into an amazing summer festival, however, I’m still somewhat traumatised by this year’s one…
Honestly, if I hadn’t seen a message on facebook the day before we left about other festivals being cancelled, I would never have known high winds were expected that weekend. Assuming they were exaggerated, off we went as usual on the Friday afternoon, and with no hiccups from the old camper van, we arrived safe and sound in Burley, in the New Forest. Luckily we missed the showers, so were able to pitch up the gazebo and prepare the clothing rails in the dry, and then as the sun set, we paused for a break and ate our packed dinner. And then the wind started. And got stronger and stronger and stronger. The clothes rails fell over until we worked out that putting them diagonally facing the wind seemed to help. Just after deciding to go to bed, the pins in the top of the gazebo legs all popped out and it more-or-less collapsed. So, with R holding the torch, and handing me pegs, out we went to re-secure; deciding to leave it in its lower position. With two guy ropes and heavy weights in every corner, and a gazebo that’s always done me proud in the wind before; I was hopeful we’d be all right.
I didn’t sleep much that night! And in the morning, half the roof was off, and most of the guy ropes had come off broken plastic loops in the corners. I re-secured the guy ropes to the fabric loops; and then they tore off as well. I re-secured the guy ropes to the poles instead. All the fabric loops securing the roof of the gazebo to the metal frame inside all tore off. All the velcro loops securing the walls to the side poles all tore off. We would have had to give up completely if our next-door neighbours hadn’t come to our rescue – they had an extra-long rope and extra-strong pegs and they literally wrapped it all over our gazebo to make sure it didn’t completely fly away.
Unfortunately some other stall-holders were far worse off. A couple of stalls were rolling along the field in the morning, and others broke throughout the day too. We heard we had until 1pm to prepare our stalls as the festival would open late, so I spent all morning making sure everything was safe for customers and secured down everything, making several make-shift guy-ropes from the ribbon and string I’d brought with us. Then after doing all that, the call came that the festival was cancelled completely. I would have cried then if I’d had the energy!
You may know that I have hypothyroid disease and my energy is precious. I can’t conjure up more from nowhere, so I knew I could not then take everything down and do it all again for Sunday’s trading. My only option was to spend the rest of the day holding onto the roof of the gazebo every time there was a gust of wind. And gusts came at about 58 miles per hour. My stress levels would’ve been ok if it wasn’t for those people who had either already packed up for the day, or performers with no gazebo to worry about, who kept walking past me making unhelpful comments like, ‘Your gazebo’s looking a bit broken and bent there,’ and, ‘So what are you going to do then, stand there holding the roof all day?’. Oh well, eventually the day was over, and just as the sun was setting, the wind finally died down again and I was even able to relax a little and go for a stroll around the festival site when all was quiet.
It was another early start on Sunday to finish putting the stall together – not helped by the fact that the public were allowed in early before we were ready! Thank goodness that apart from a couple of short early showers, the weather that day was really nice. Saturday ticket holders were allowed in on the Sunday, and even though I had a crappy pitch in a far corner with no passing foot-fall, I was pretty busy all day. It was a good day’s takings and even though it wasn’t enough to make up for missing Saturday’s, I was fairly pleased.
R shared a portion of my stall this year and was selling handmade animal ears she’d felted, and she sold a few pairs, so that was an encouraging start for her new crafty venture. (Soon coming to a new Etsy shop – I’ll keep you posted.)
Now I realise this is a rather indulgent diary-style blog post, and probably not much help or use to anyone reading this. However, the New Forest Fairy Festival is one of the most important events in my life every year – the most important career-wise; so I thought I would share what it was like for me this year. It’s the reason why I’ve been very quiet over on my YouTube channel, Instagram, and here too, beforehand. Because of course, it’s not just the weekend of the festival; it’s the weeks of preparation and planning. It’s missing the best of the British summer weather because I was inside sewing to make sure I had enough more affordable festival clothing items as well as the big show-stopper fairytale dresses. It’s the planning the layout and decoration of the stall; it’s panicking over not being able to find height extenders for my clothes rails in time. It’s buying a new paypal machine at the last minute because my old one decides not to work any more. It’s basically all my mind can think about.
And now it’s all over, I can’t help but feel a little flat. A falling clothes rail knocked over my vlogging camera and broke it, which will cost £500 to replace (£700 if I go for an upgrade to at least make the change feel worthwhile). And I will definitely need a new gazebo and changing tent next year. All the profit I’ve ever made at the fairy festival over the years won’t add up to cover that. All I can do now is take a deep breath, dust myself off and carry on.
I received some lovely positive feedback from shoppers and browsers at the festival – the mermaid ballgown in-particular received lots of attention and requests to make it in more sizes. So I think that’s what I’m going to do next. I’m also looking at which other festivals I can do next year. With a bit of luck, the more I do, the more the investment of new equipment is worthwhile. If you know of any good festivals where you think Threads of a Fairytale clothing will sell well, I’d really appreciate it if you could let me know. Thank you!
By the way, there is of course going to be YouTube videos over on my channel of getting ready for the New Forest Fairy Festival, and then one of the weekend itself, but I am so far behind with editing at the moment, they may not be there for a couple of weeks yet. I’ll add them here when they’re ready!