2012 Tulsa Mayfest (review) – “it was a good car until they started screaming about it”

The place where the stuff happens

Mayfest is a big, bright, happy, sprawling thing that takes over downtown Tulsa every year. Do it, love it, and tie your booth to every immovable object within reach. The wind is trying its dead-level best to get to the general vicinity of Tupelo, Mississippi, and it uses every opportunity to remind humanity how much it hates us for putting buildings in its way.

The show organizers put me in nearly the same place as before, except this year I was in booth 2 instead of 6. At Mayfest, being the tenant of a booth x locations further north than your previous location means the wind is 2^x times more powerful than before. So, if it’s 2mph in booth 6, it’s 32mph in booth 2. Booth 1 is in a perpetual state of trouble no matter what.

FAKE EDIT: My calculations are not accurate at all. Location doesn’t matter because the wind is consistent over the entire show. But location does matter if you can’t find anything to tie down to.

from 2011 (not my booth)

Just like last year, I was ready for it! There was a steel fence behind the booth, so I moved all of my booth weights to the front corners. Between the maze of ratchet straps (attached to the fence, and diagonally around the tent), panel hooks along the top, several feet of velcro attaching the Propanels to the canopy legs, and four ammo box weighing in at 70 lbs each, my booth didn’t budge when the 40mph winds hit on Saturday. In fact, I was inside the booth setting up Saturday morning, and if it wasn’t for the sight of my neighbors across the street clinging to their Ez-Up for dear life, I wouldn’t have known that the wind picked up. It just sounded like a big truck went by.

fun stuff

Thursday — Four-day long three-day show

I’m not sure why the show starts on Thursday. But it did give everybody the opportunity to see the show before everything got sold on Saturday.

~~ $$$ ~~~
ENTER TO WIN, GUYS!
YOU COULD WIN A NEW CAR OR $50,000 CASH!
IT’S FREE TO REGISTER AND ENTER OUR DRAWING!
~~~<$!~!$~!$~^$$$$$^~$!~$!~!$>~~~

I got to stare at this for four days! But the view came at a price.

Friday — See the rest of the show, know where you stand

Like most big shows, Mayfest offers booth sitters to watch your booth when you need to take a break. Since you won’t be doing much else on Friday, take advantage of this opportunity to see the rest of the show.

This is when I discover where I stand in relation to the other artists, especially the other photographers. Mayfest is a big thing, so it attracts big-name artists. I have a 10×10 booth which only goes up 7 feet. Some artists have–

ENTER TO WIN, GUYS! YOU COULD WIN A NEW CAR OR $50,000 CASH!
IT’S FREE TO REGISTER AND ENTER OUR DRAWIIIING!!!

–a 10×20 canopy which goes up 10 feet. My largest piece is 24″ x 48″ going for $425; their largest piece is about 7 feet across at $3,500. I’ve mostly got photos of Oklahoma, they’ve got photos of what looks like other planets. I’ve been doing shows for 5 years; they’ve been doing shows longer than I’ve been alive.

It really put me in my place.

Saturday — Madness

The Tulsa Fire Marshal estimates that Mayfest attracts 375,000 people. From my point of view, most of them showed up–

!!!! ENTER TO WIN, GUYS! YOU COULD WIN A NEW CAR OR $50,000 CASH! IT’S FREE TO REGISTER AND ENTER OUR DRAWING! $$$ +-+-~~

 –on Saturday.

Sales were enough to generate a pretty noticeable spike in the sales history graph on squareup.com! (EDIT: I actually made more on Friday.. weird, that.)

This is gonna sound weird, but I should eat at QuickTrip more often!

In addition to booth sitters, the festival also had people handing out free food to artists. They had fruit and water, but also sandwiches provided by QuickTrip. When they came by my booth and opened up the cooler full of sandwiches with QT logos all over them, I could help but hesitate, “wait, that’s gas station food.. what the?” But you know what, it was really tasty. My favorite was their chicken salad sandwich on croissant. Add in a free water and an apple, and I’m set!

Sunday — a little rain

There’s always rain at Mayfest, and this time it came on Sunday. It didn’t stick around long — just enough of sprinkle to warp any cardboard boxes left out.

In conclusion

it wasn’t quite Edmond money, but it was still a really strong show. I’m still waiting to hear back from a few potential customers who inquired about custom orders.

this…

ENTER TO WIN, GUYS! YOU COULD WIN A NEW CAR OR $50,000 CASH! IT’S FREE TO REGISTER AND ENTER OUR DRAAAAWIIIIIIING!!!!!~~~~~~~

By now you’re probably wondering why I have spam messages all over the place. Frustrating as hell, isn’t it? Well, that annoying pitch has been rattling through my brain ever since the show. Across from my booth was a brand new $100,000+ Fisker Karma hybrid electric sports car (see above), a megaphone (see below), several well-trained screaming people, a booth full of signup sheets, and that very pitch being yelled in every direction from that booth (including directly into my booth) for FOUR. SOLID. DAYS.

The most confusing part — it wasn’t an artist booth, and it wasn’t a food vendor. What the hell was it doing there?

Maybe it was a postmodern interpretive live performance of email spam. If that was the case, and since every artist has to apply over zapplication.org with a booth shot and four photos of their work, I wonder what the photos of their booth looked like?

It couldn’t have possibly been just some business who wanted to harvest as much personal information about everybody within earshot to make a metric crapton of money by side-stepping through a loophole in marketing laws allowing all future contact with everybody on its now-enormous mailing list to not be called “unsolicited” because everybody who filled out a little card showed interest in the service — the “chance to win!” Say it ain’t so. (Wait.. Is that the sound of my minor in Marketing moving to the foreground?)

Anyway, to heck with that! Let’s get to the things I overheard from people in my booth (and my responses):

  • “Were you there when you took that?” (The closest thing to a Zen Koan regarding photography. Let’s meditate and deeply explore this topic.)
  • While looking at the Ashtub photo: “Is that natural?” (Of course, this is what happens when you plant an ashtray and wait a few months.. but it only grows in the desert.)
  • Not really a quote, but a woman stopped by to tell me that my photos of the castle at Turner Falls inspired her son to go on a date there. That’s awesome stuff that warms up the entire day! :)
  • ENTER TO WIN, GUYS! YOU COULD WIN A NEW CAR OR $50,000 CASH! IT’S FREE TO REGISTER AND ENTER OUR DRAAWWING!

Paseo will not have a car giveaway. Paseo will not have a car giveaway. Paseo will not have a car giveaway.

If I say it enough times, it will come true, right?

This entry was posted in Art Festival Reviews.