Preparations for the Craft Marquee
Our guest blogger this week is our very own Section Head, Fiona Mundy, who heads up the superb Craft Marquee. Here, Fiona takes you through her preparations in making the Craft Marquee such a popular and successful part of the Royal County of Berkshire Show!
Getting ready for the show is always an exciting time with a list as long as my arm of things to complete and tick off.
It all starts in January when our selection meetings take place and then it is a steady process of booking crafters in and answering questions from new exhibitors.
Then we get to August when we finalise our numbers and plan the layout of the marquee. We have a 6ft long piece of paper fondly known as ‘The Parchment’ with colour coded paper tabs for every exhibitor and plenty of sticky tack and it takes us many hours of swapping and moving to get everyone in the right place so we don’t have similar crafts next to each other and everyone fits in between the fire exits.
Once that is done we can breathe a sigh of relief – just for a week, and then the printing, laminating, packing and ordering starts so everything is ready to go the weekend before the Show.
7 days before the Show, once the Craft Marquee is in place, we turn up with our hammers and a 50m measuring tape and start to mark out where everyone is going. This year we will be banging 79 wooden stakes in to the ground and praying that the ground is soft!
Thursday before the Show sees us back there again with the measuring tape to sort out the parking and then WE’RE OFF. For us Friday is the busiest day with everyone starting to show up to get their stands set up and ready. We have stewards working hard to help out when exhibitors are on their own and there is lots of to-ing and fro-ing with last minute hiccups to be sorted. By the time Saturday morning comes around and the Show gates open our job is nearly done. Just before 8am when our group of sterling volunteers turn up to steward the Marquee we make sure they all know what is to be done and then we finally get the time to have a quick cup of tea!
We love seeing the crowds come into the Marquee to admire and buy some of the amazing products our exhibitors have on offer. All of it handmade and decorated by the people you will meet on the stands.
This year we have plenty of new exhibitors as well as many of our regulars. Check out the wonderful wooden bowls from Terry Harvey the wood turner or buy a beautiful glass dragon ornament from Sandra Young. Red Shed are coming back with their ever popular slate house signs and their beautifully carved chopping boards. Pete Hill from Wokingham is returning this year with his furniture and you can start your Christmas shopping early with brightly coloured handmade toys and trinkets for the little ones from Jig-a-Link.
We are really pleased with the number of new exhibitors this year who are coming from Berkshire. More than ever before! There is Bespoke by Kim jewellery from Upper Basildon and House of Hector soft furnishings from Hamstead Marshall. Coming from Thatcham are two local exhibitors, Emma Guy Illustrations and Mark Tamcken furniture maker and from just down the road in Newbury is The Little Bunny Studio. We have the Little Glass Shed from Mortimer and Rainbow Woods, wonderful mixed-wood boards and live river edge tables, from Burghfield Common. Visit Mike Coggins from Finchampstead with his colourful artwork depicting coastal and local scenes and see if you can recognise where he has been painting.
Are you crafty yourself? Come to the Stewards desk in the Craft Marquee and pick up a leaflet about exhibiting with us in 2020.
We look forward to welcoming you on the 21st and 22nd so don’t forget to pay us a visit.