Setting Up in Ripley     25 July, 2007, 11:10 am
Susan and I arrived at the Cedar Lakes Conference Center for the Mountain State Arts & Craft Show near Ripley, WV at about noon on July 4. This was our first foray up the West Virginia Turnpike (I-77) pulling our travel trailer. The mountains near Beckley were very steep and I was nervous that the van would make it. We still haven’t weighed the van and trailer, although we have done the calculations on van pulling capacity. So we used trial and error and math on our mountain-climbing adventure. Actually it all went well, and the trailer only added about an hour to our driving time.

The show is arranged around Cedar Lake and we were near the end of one of the large tents. We are able to drive right to the 8’ x16’ booth, which is a big deal for exhibitors. The festival organizers provide pegboard backing, one of the last festivals to do so. We put down plastic on the ground, and covered it with our grey carpets. We only began using carpet outdoors last year after being told that a grass floor makes you look like a flea market. It does look nicer and cuts down on the moisture. It adds another step to set-up, and more to carry in the van.

Once the floor is down, we put up the Propanels. These are carpet-covered foam core walls with steel tubing. They are easy to handle and look better than our old steel-mesh panels. Susan is in charge of booth configuration, since she famously has the best spatial planning capabilities. I would have to lay out the booth on grid paper before attempting anything other than the standard 10’ x 10’ booth.

Next, Susan begins organizing the picture hanging while I get the lighting and shelves together. This seems to be the standard operating procedure for most husband/wife artist teams – women arrange the products while the guys climb on the ladders, etc. It’s probably been this way since men were lighting oil lamps while setting up market stalls in Biblical times.

We worked, hot and sweaty, on the booth until 4:11 pm that evening. Then we headed to the Cedar Lakes RV Park to our little house on wheels which we had set up earlier. After cooling showers, beers, and dinner I allowed myself to think about my 60th birthday from the day before. I feel complete satisfaction in the importance of art and my role in it. More specifically, I love Susan Loy, the Literary Calligraphy art and world that she has created. She always said that she wanted to live an interesting life, and I’ve been a part of it for over thirty years now. On my own, I’m sure that I wouldn’t have taken a travel trailer to drive up the West Virginia mountains. Together we made it to the “toppermost of the poppermost”— just like the Beatles ;-)

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