Busman’s Holiday – Okoboji Iowa’s Art in the Park

I didn’t book many shows for August this year…the grandson should be arriving any day, and I want my weekends open to be able to go down and smush little cheeks!!

So I’m in SERIOUS art show withdrawal.  It’s hard to describe, but when I’m used to setting up my traveling boutique week after week and go for a while without it, I kind of get the shakes.

Well, not really…but I needed an art show fix.  So last Thursday, I sent my friend Cathy a message and asked if she’d like to drive 3+ hours one way to go check out the Okoboji Art in the Park show.  She thought it sounded like a fine idea, so we got up early on Saturday and trekked on up to northern Iowa.

I’d never been to Okoboji before, and the Garmin was not cooperating with finding the exact address that the web site listed for the show.  However, how hard can it be to find an art show?  There should be signs everywhere, right?

WRONG.  And that’s the first strike against the Pearson Lakes Art Center “Art in the Park”.  There were no signs anywhere – fortunately, the park is located just off the main drag of town, and we spotted white tents (they were down a hill and could have been easily missed).   The only signage I saw advertising an art show was on the path going from the parking lot to the beach.  At that point, if you didn’t SEE the rows of canopies, you had bigger problems or concerns than we did.  So…unless you were going to the beach, or planning on going to the art show, you didn’t know it was there.

Onward to the show.  Now, after driving for over three hours, and consuming one diet Mountain Dew and a V8, I needed to find the little girl’s room.  Scanned the show area for porta potties, which are not my first choice, but will do in a pinch.  Scanned the area for public restrooms.  You’d think, if there are 100+ artists, several thousand art patrons, and a beach right across the walk way that there would be ample facilities.

WRONG.  Strike two…the only restrooms I could find were located in a hot dog stand (they were nice, but I felt a little guilty at using them without buying a hot dog and the line was ridiculous) that was up a hill and quite a trek from the art show set up.  Not a good situation for artists OR patrons!

So after finding the show, finding the restrooms, and deciding we wanted some good art show grub, we looked around for a food stand.  There was one…hamburgers and cheeseburgers fresh off the grill.  It was good, inexpensive, but the only choice.  Annoying, but not a deal breaker.  Cathy and I grabbed our burgers, and started walking the show.

The booths were set up in a nice, orderly manner.  It was easy to walk from booth to booth, scan or step inside and look at the offerings.   I saw jewelry (LOTS of jewelry…mostly strung work, but a few glass and one silversmith), 2D, 3D, some cool sculpture and yard art.  I was surprised to see two photographers with the “letter” art (buildings, railings, etc., that look like A B C and are arranged to spell out HOPE or LOVE or whatever you desire).  Lots of pottery, including one of my favorites – Braunschweig Pottery.

Almost forgot strike three…no trash containers!  I walked the entire show with the refuse from my cheeseburger in my hand.  I couldn’t believe that in a nice park, there was not a trash container in sight.  I saw several instances of trash laying on the ground, which is probably due to the fact that there was no where else to put it!

I did buy a few things, but I was one of the few that I saw buying.  My impression was that while there was some nice, quality art available, folks were there to see the art and then hit the beach or lake, not necessarily to buy art.  Lots of lookers (some of the booths were hard to get into because there were people crowded in them!) but I didn’t see or hear about many sales.

So a mixed bag…we enjoyed the trip (and the shakes at Dukes, a local stand), but it’s not a show I think I’ll attend as an artist.  Nothing like a busman’s holiday, however!!