Town Square

Fair Attendance Down Again

Original post made by John Barry on Jun 22, 2011

Attendance at the Danville Fine Arts Faire [sic] for the past three years appears to be a reflection of the sour economy that continues to grip the state and country. Four or five years ago, the Faire featured sidewalk-to-sidewalk people. On Saturday I was able to ride my bike down the street past booths and hardly have to hit the brakes.

Sunday was Father's Day, and that may have diluted the crowds somewhat, but Saturday's attendance was relatively sparse as well. In reality mainly a crafts event, the Faire's fare calls for primarily discretionary purchases, which tend to soften when the fins hit the fan.

Another sign of the economic times is the disappearance from Hartz Avenue of the Kevin Milligan Gallery--whose space is now occupied by a shoe store. Milligan is allegedly opening another location, but for now at least, the only remaining downtown art gallery is the city-run Village Theater Gallery, which rarely exhibits the work of local artists.

In the apparently unlikely event that the California economy is ever taken off life support (at least State Controller John Chiang has stopped payments to our feckless legislators), perhaps the arts will begin to flourish locally.

John A. Barry is a writer and avocational artist. To share anything art-related, call him at 314-9528 or email


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Danville
on Jun 24, 2011 at 9:12 am

Honestly, I think it may be Danville thats the issue. The fine arts fair in Lafayette this year was packed with people purchasing fine art. It was like walking around disneyland.
The 'Village Art Gallery' is non existent to the public (the public I've spoken to) and to most the local artists.
The town of Danville or Chamber of Commerse should open the books to reveal the true success of the event for the artists who pay for the booths.

Posted by Long Time Resident, a resident of Danville
on Jun 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I don't think it is the economy, bad as it is, I think it is the vendors. I have been to many Street Art fairs, in Utah (Park City) and in California. They have been packed with people. But they have interesting vendors who make and sell interesting things. Danville's vendors haven't changed for years and there is nothing new to look at and purchase. I love to come walk down the street to see what is available. This year, as it was last year also, there was nothing new and unique that prompted a purchase.

Posted by San Ramon Oberver, a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm

San Ramon Oberver is a registered user.

I'm not familiar with the art scene in Danville, but local Danville artist Hongmei Lu's work Web Link is still on exhibit at the Lindsay Dirkx Brown Gallery in the San Ramon Community Center. Her exhibit closes this Wednesday, so art lovers should take a trip down here to catch it before it is gone. Be sure to go upstairs where she has some reasonably priced floral works and a couple of paintings of a Mount Diablo.


Posted by San Ramon Oberver, a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm

San Ramon Oberver is a registered user.

There's a typo in my User Name, which should be San Ramon Observer not Oberver. Sorry about that.


Posted by Bill, a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 26, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I'd be interested for Long Time Resident's observations about the other Street Fairs. Do the same exhibitors come year after year to the same Fairs? What kinds of goods/styles/price points do you actually purchase at Fairs? Do you feel that the kinds of goods/styles/price points of the exhibitors reflect, in any way, the tastes and preferences of the location of the Fair? Like that. Thanks.

Posted by Long Time Resident, a resident of Danville
on Jun 26, 2011 at 5:18 pm

An answer to Bill of San Ramon: The other art fairs I have attended, including the Park City fair held in August usually have a nice mixture of repeat vendors and new vendors. The Park City Fair, run by The Kimball Art Center, may be helpful, if you are interested, in explaining how to attract the new vendors. The Park City main street is closed down and might be a bit longer than the Danville area. I used to be excited every year at the Danville Fair to see what was "new" in the arts and craft area and was usually prompted to purchase a few things. But the last 4 years, there wasn't anything new. At the Park City Fair this there are always several new art mediums and artists that make it worth the trip to see with approximately 200 booths, maybe more. Only a few were the same artists/craftspeople I have seen in Danville, but at least half of them were from all over the country, even a French woman working out of New York City with unique handmade prints. This fair has always been well attended. I believe they have a private showing on Friday nights and open it to the general public Saturday and Sunday. I really would hate to see the Danville Fair fade away. There just needs to be some new excitement generated. Probably more than you wanted to know.

Posted by Long Time Resident, a resident of Danville
on Jun 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Further in answer to questions from Bill of San Ramon: Art Fairs are typically higher priced than the Martinez Antique Fairs. However, I love bargains and good quality. The Park City Fair is higher priced art, but then there are some good high quality gift priced items that are unique. For instance, a handmade wooden-handled bread cutter in the range of $35 (beautiful design, rubbed unique wood) had at least 15 people waiting in line to purchase. My niece purchased it as a gift to give me and I love using it. Then the French woman with the unique prints had her art priced from $150 to over $1,000. There was a lot of activity in her booth. I could go on and on. When you have activity like that it prompts others to want to purchase things. It is just getting the right mixture of quality bargains and unique expensive items. Even my nephew - a college student - purchased a very unique photo at the Park City Fair. He came away raving about all the interesting things (and he would rather be hunting than shopping and is a starving student).

Posted by Bill, a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 29, 2011 at 9:53 am

Thanks, LTR.

Took a look at City Park and it seems that this venue is completely different than the Street Fair in Danville. It appears that the Park City event is handled by the Cultural Center, and not a promoter, like it is here. The Danville Chamber of Commerce gets a cut of sales and booth fees from the promoter (it is a fundraiser for the Chamber) and all funds generated are diverted from local cultural activities, except for the local artists who purchase a booth and sell their wares. My opinion is that this is usury of the worst kind. Like they say, "It has gone to the dogs..."