In the meantime, I thought I'd share my useful list of some of the preparations.
(Tea towels. There's a few left which I'll be taking along in the hope that someone might like an unusual Christmas present for a difficult person!) AND remember a true feminist knows what a tea towel is but prefers to use it for wiping oil off her hands after servicing the tractor.
List of things to remember
1) Buy throat sweets. In 2013 when I did my first Festival, I had no idea what was involved. 2 essentials for having a good time are water, and throat sweets. The 3rd essential is covered by the Festival organizers, and that's cover for 5 minutes at selected points over 4 days for the natural consequences of the first essential!
2) Is your stand planned? Have you remembered a table and a chair to sit on? (Both are in short supply and because of that are liable to be "borrowed" This year you have to sign for them and someone delivers them when you turn up to fill the stand.) NB It always looks smaller than you expect....unless of course you haven't got quite enough work to fill it in which case, it's huge and you'll need to tell everyone you like space around an exhibit to allow the eye to rest.
3) Turn up on set up day. You need to do this so you can begin installing your exhibition. This means making sure you have your exhibition passes around your neck, and your car park pass on the dashboard. It's quite a drive to the halls from the NEC entrance, and you have to follow the signs to a man with a clipboard who ticks you off his list and ushers you to the back of the halls, where you have 20 minutes to unload before finding a parking space in the proper car park. It's really useful to have someone with you to do this bit, whilst you flap around and panic because you're obliged to rush and are disorientated (no sign posts). You can of course give up at any point, and decide to fall over in despair, but the temptation to stay down and play dead is quite large.
4) Most people wander around for hours looking professional and in control, but remember they're not. If you get really panicky, find the organizers office and stand outside and cry. They rarely let you get to the stage where tears soak the carpets before offering help. If you're a man and tears don't come easily, suck your thumb.
5) So you've hung yourself. And all is looking good in the space. Have you got room for people? Thousands will turn up - yes they will, it's the biggest show of it's kind in Europe - and it will all get a bit squashed. Quilters - and pardon the analogy if it doesn't apply to you - like to fill huge shopping bags with gorgeousness. This gives everyone quite a large profile around the bum area. Allow for wide loads.
6) Take paper and pens to write things down. Not only for the shop if you have one, but for notes because people will ask you questions, like "Will you come and talk to our group" "Can you write and let me know how I do that?" "How do you make a really good Victoria Sandwich?" That kind of thing. You'll never remember everything in the mad rush, so a record is useful.
7) Enjoy. At 5pm on Sunday you'll never again witness people moving at such speed as at the take down! It's all over really quickly. Go home. Have a G&T or a large Toblerone, and relax. You'll have earned it.
I'm on STAND G28. Through Our Hands - Maker, Making, Made with Laura Kemshall, Linda Kemshall and if we're really lucky Amelie too for a tiny bit. If you see me up to strange nonsense smile and allow me some leeway - I'm on my usual mission!!