The Board Chronicles: California Poppy Festival   1 comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

It was windy.

Poppy-Logo-2015The Poppy Festival in nearby Lancaster, CA was a great event for us. Really. But, man, it was like a weekend spent camping. We were left windblown, dust-filled and exhausted.

It was windy. Really, really windy.

Poppy Festival 01This event is not for the faint of heart. You need to be dedicated. You need pro-quality equipment that will withstand gale force winds. You need 100 pounds of weight on your shade structure so it won’t become airborne. You need to be prepared, or you will have a bad weekend. A very bad weekend.

You might have a bad weekend like the nice ladies in the next aisle over. It was their first festival selling jewelry. They didn’t bring weights for their brand new consumer-grade shade structure. They held it down. It broke, and they didn’t make it to Sunday afternoon. They left, and I doubt they’ll do another event anytime soon.

The weather report: it was hot. Then it cooled off when the breeze picked up. Then it was really windy until nearly the end of the afternoon. We have the same kind of wind cycle in Santa Clarita (which is 50 miles southwest), but not nearly as intense.

Just like last week’s event, Big Hat Days, applying to be a vendor at this event was challenging. The city of Lancaster also required a certificate of insurance naming lots of people as additionally insured. The problem was complicated, though, by the instructions in the vendor packet being wrong. I then got instructions on what to do … that were wrong. I generated 5 different Certificates, and they finally either got what they needed or gave up. Either way, we were in.

Since the boss of me, the second Mrs M, lives in Lancaster, it was a no-brainer to make this big community festival a big Mrs M event, too. We stayed the weekend with them to save on miles … well, not really. We stayed with them because Miss P likes it when we do, and it’s our sacred duty to spoil our granddaughter.

Logo-300xSetting up the booth was a challenge … getting into the booth area required following a serpentine route through the large city park. When we found check-in, they gave us our parking pass, IDs, and then we were clear to drive over a curb onto the grass to the booth. After set-up, we parked in the outfield of one of the 4 baseball fields adjacent to the festival area. After the event, getting out involved another serpentine route, driving over 2 curbs, visiting a softball field, and finally exiting the park after driving through a chain link fence that was temporarily opened to make the path possible. This is a big, complicated city-sponsored event with 500 vendors – everything from local colleges to cable TV suppliers to ladies making tutus.

Was it a big event for us? You bet. Record sales for the weekend … for the second week in a row. Sold the most expensive board on the table … for the second week in a row. Can’t wait for this weekend. Prices are going up.

New Ideas

  • Mrs. M’s sampled their sugar scrub for the first time. They set up a water dispenser so you could rub on a sample of scrub, and then wash it off. It was a live demonstration of softer skin, brought to you by Mrs. M’s! The result: sugar scrub sales skyrocketed. Velda is convinced she’s a genius.
  • Mr-Ms-Logo-RTThis is the first outdoor festival that we’ve done with a double booth … so we had to buy a second shade structure and make a second set of weights. It was worth the cost. The second booth allowed us to spread out: much more room for Mrs. M, and a bit more space for the cutting boards as well. It’s really essential to have enough space to create an attractive display.


  • Poppies do cover parts of Lancaster during their brief spring season. There’s a poppy reserve, even, kept just so people can enjoy the flowers. Unfortunately, the poppies were well past peak at this point this year, and, beyond that, the poppy reserve is nowhere near the Lancaster City Park where the Festival is held. The only poppies in sight are simply landscaping by the entrance … along with non-native flowers. This did disappoint some customers who thought the Poppy Festival was about poppies.
  • Our neighbor, catty corner across the aisle, was selling dry pasta. They had a stove and cooked pasta to give out free samples. Unfortunately, they did this without a sink … so they never washed their hands. The guys did wipe their hands on their pants, though, so I’m sure it was sanitary.
  • When I see neighbors holding their shade structure down in the wind, it makes me very nervous. Most vendors weren’t prepared. I didn’t see a shade structure fully launch into the air, but I did see two lift off the ground. Very scary.
  • 2pm Saturday – after 4 hours – our sales were $148. What have we done???
  • 2pm Sunday – after 4 hours – our sales were $629. Who said Sunday mornings were always slow?
  • One customer came to buy another cutting board from me on Sunday. He’d bought a sous chef board last month, and his wife won’t use it as it’s too pretty. So, he’s hanging that one on the wall, and bought another board he hopes is ugly enough to use.
  • I need to make more ugly boards, apparently. But then, after selling 39 boards in 2 weekends, I better make some pretty ones, too.
  • Velda had a pair of teenaged boys (brothers?) who were enthralled with her sugar scrubs. They discovered the lip scrub (quoth the 16-year-old: “the ladies will like this.”). So, the guys got in touch with their feminine side and had a great time talking to Velda about her lotion products. One of them came back 3 minutes later holding a pine cone, and bet Velda a lip scrub that she could not tell if the cone was male or female. Velda figured she had a 50-50 chance, and she guessed right (female) … and then she still gave the creative young man a lip scrub for entertaining her. Young ladies, beware of those lips!

 The FoodPoppy Festival 02

  • Friday Dinner: Christopher made spaghetti. You can never go wrong with a spaghetti dinner.
  • Saturday Breakfast: McDonald’s, # 4. Of course.
  • Saturday Lunch: Chicken wrap with garlic Parmesan fries. The food was OK, but it took too long. I had to stand in the hot sun waiting. Welcome to life at festivals….
  • Saturday Snack: Blackberry shave ice. Velda went to get it and waited in a LONG line. She chose the flavor for me (!) … and when she came back, I was heavily engaged with two customers making difficult decisions and giving me specs to do an order. I got one bite.
  • Saturday Dinner: Best meal of the trip. Little Caesar’s pizza pizza. The quality of the meal was all about the company, not the food. For the photos, see A Frozen Birthday.
  • Sunday Breakfast: McDonald’s, # 4. Of course … though I may have reached my limit now!
  • Sunday Lunch: Velda brought back nachos and baby tacos. She concluded the hot sauce was too hot for me … so she took the nachos and I got the tacos. Beef, onion, cilantro and tortillas … and call them tacos. I ate some before new customers demanded deserved my attention. The rest was thrown away.
  • Sunday Snack: We were too busy.
  • Sunday Dinner: 9:30pm. Not even stale crackers in the house to eat this week. So, we drove to Jimmy Dean’s, which was was closed. We went on down the road to Jack in the Box. We both had # 28. Comfort food … sausage egg burrito.

This weekend wins no culinary awards. None.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven between 3 cars: 380. One extra trip from Lancaster to Santa Clarita for gear pick-up, one for gear return, and then the normal to and fro from the venue and our home away from home.
  • Booth cost, 12×24: $305
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer, the City of Lancaster: 0
  • Total sales: $1,934
  • # containers of product taken: 19
  • # boards available: 86
  • Saturday alarm: 6:15am
  • Sunday alarm: 7:00am
  • # transactions: 66 … 47 selling lotion
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no idea. We didn’t have time to look.
  • # woodworking vendors: Three that I know of. One sold routed signs; the other made children’s toys.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 14:5

Boards sold: 20

  • Cheese Board: 3
  • Surfboard: 2
  • Pig Board: 1
  • Small Sous Chef: 2
  • Large Cutting Board: 4
  • Small Board: 5
  • Custom Design: 1
  • Engraved Board: 2

Here are some favorites that sold this week:


Booth 15 - 39



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