How to Have A Successful

DIY Fest Experience

Whether you’re brand new to participating in the Annual Craft Lake City DIY Festival or a seasoned exhibitor, here are a few things you may want to think about in the days, weeks and months leading up to the big event!

Talk to Your Customers

One of the biggest contributors to financial success in a market or festival environment is connecting with festival attendees! By staying alert and interacting during public hours, you invite the opportunity to engage with local art-enthusiasts, build relationships, make sales & encourage contact post-fest for custom work. We recommend staying away from activities that may discourage attendees from connecting with you, such as sitting in the back of your booth on your phone. If you’re generally a shy person, try to grow your comfort zone by greeting and talking to every customer who enters your booth space! While talking about yourself may be uncomfortable for some people, remember that festival-goers are there with the intention to learn about you & your unique story, and they want to support our local artisan base! If they make a purchase from you, that item becomes that much more special, having been imbued not only with the meaning of your story as a small local maker but also with the positive experience of a great (if brief) connection. It’s always helpful to book a friend or family member to help you at your booth; consider someone who can be there with you that is excited to hype up your work & who may be on the chattier side!

  • Practice an elevator pitch for your brand or product. DIY Festival attendees tend to be passionate about local makers and small businesses, so buyers will feel more compelled to support you if they know your backstory or mission. Consider: What sets you apart?
  • Tip: Try to be cognizant of not saying the very same thing to every customer, since you might come across as robotic to those within earshot as you engage other visitors. Merely acknowledging your customers with a “hello” usually isn’t enough to convert a sale. Relax & keep your engagement authentic. Ask open-ended, progressing questions! Take an active interest in having a conversation!

Meet Your Neighbors

Leverage your downtime at the festival by getting to know fellow Craft Lake City DIY Fest makers! This is an incredible networking opportunity as well as a way to make friends & share your passions! Each festival day offers a window of time between exhibitor arrival & public hours (during which Craft Lake City does a security sweep). Beyond being a great chance to refresh your display or restock products, this is prime time to mingle (& shop!) from the hundreds of talented local creatives who are making this wonderful event happen.

Similarly, plan on padding your DIY Fest schedule with a helper (or helpers) to ensure you have time to shop & experience the festival at large! Note that due to liability issues, Craft Lake City & our volunteers cannot booth-sit. 

  • Be a good neighbor
  • Consider that some people have fragrance sensitivities
  • Stay in your designated space

Take Care of Your Body

While festivals and markets are incredibly fun, participating in a market setting can be emotionally taxing. You’re putting your heart on your sleeve as you display/sell work that you have poured your soul into & so tirelessly created. It’s been a lot of long days (weeks, months) preparing inventory & perfecting all the preparations for your booth & branding. Here are a few tips to consider in prioritizing your physical, mental & emotional wellbeing amid all the hustle, bustle & excitement!

  • Pace yourself! Think carefully about pacing your preparations in the weeks/months leading up to the event. Leave yourself plenty of time to prepare. If you procrastinate, you risk experiencing some serious burnout! 
  • Try to get as much sleep as possible leading up to the event. Get a good night’s sleep in-between each day, especially the night before load-in. You’ll be tempted to stretch yourself thin to get a ton of inventory prepped, but sleep is such a crucial investment, especially before Day 1 (which sets the tone for the entire event).
  • Fuel your body! Pack plenty of snacks, water, etc. to tide you over as needed & to anticipate long stretches of time when you cannot leave your booth (think load-in/set-up, peak hours, etc.), or when lines at food trucks are super long. 
  • Pack SPF! If you’re an outdoor exhibitor, we strongly encourage that you wear sunscreen during the entirety of the festival. If you’re an indoor exhibitor, consider that you will likely be spending some time outdoors for breaks, to get food, loading in/out, etc., so we recommend packing a bottle of sunscreen. The August sun is no joke!

For ideas on navigating the emotional aspects of managing a small business, check out this blog post from 2017!

Focus on the Qualitative Experience

Focus on developing relationships with life-long, returning customers over making one-time sales. Make your mission clear and visible to engage customers.

  • Offer incentives for customers to keep shopping from you after the festival is over
  • Hand out business cards or have a QR code to promote your social channels
  • Consider that many shoppers prefer to reach out after an event wraps up to request custom work!

Factors that Play into Your Success:

  • Compelling merchandising/eye-catching display
  • Strong branding
  • Variety of price points
  • Variety of products
  • Attitude/demeanor/willingness to engage customers
  • Pre-festival marketing
    • Come prepared with an adequate volume of merchandise
    • Price your items, or provide a pricing sheet!
    • Offer a variety of payment options
    • Providing sales/promo incentives
    • Consider battery-powered lighting for your display to catch the eye (solar-powered lighting also works well for outdoor exhibitors)

    General Tips

    It’s really important that you stay for the entirety of public hours and be on time for when you have been asked to be at your booth before security sweeps at the beginning of each day. Leaving the event early is prohibited. Barring an emergency (in which case, please reach out to CLC staff or volunteers as soon as possible for assistance & permission to leave), exhibitors found leaving their spot outside of the designated schedule jeopardize their ability to participate in future events with Craft Lake City. Note that festival-goers (customers) may be counting on your business being there at the event, so if you leave early (or don’t show up) you’d be letting the customer down (plus, you could lose out on a sale).

    • Our organization makes a commitment to providing a full festival experience for attendees and providing equal opportunities to our exhibitors. Exhibitors who leave early could negatively impact the experience of the makers and attendees around your empty booth space, as it looks unprofessional. Leaving early may jeopardize your participation in future Craft Lake City events. 
    • Make sure you have a plan for if you happen to run out of product. Even if you have nothing left to sell at the actual event, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by leaving & abandoning a golden marketing opportunity. Here are some back-up ideas for selling out of merch: bring a clipboard to take down custom order requests or capture newsletter subscribers, host a social media giveaway or incentive for people to follow your account, bring sample items to represent your work even if you don’t have anything to sell (display some of your pieces you don’t want to sell, but encompass you artistic capabilities) and pass out LOTS of business cards!
    • If there’s an emergency or a problem, let us know — we will do everything we can to help you!

    Loading In

    • Keep your schedule free for THE ENTIRE designated load-in day! Your load-in time will be assigned approx. 1 week leading up to the event. It is crucial that you stick to it, as coordinating over 350 local makers is challenging in-itself. With a huge number of exhibitors to load-in during a very narrow time window, Craft Lake City’s production team puts in dozens of hours of careful timetable and map planning to ensure smooth logistical flow. Being inflexible or late for your load-in time is a significant pain point as we try to get hundreds of other exhibitors set up to sell! 
    • Bring a dolly & helper(s) for load-in day! Knowing that CLC has many hundreds of exhibitors & exhibitors at DIY Fest (with a very limited number of volunteers on hand), we cannot guarantee any volunteer help will be available with your load-in. While we love to do as much as we can to assist with the heavy lifting & set-up, CLC only has so many dollies & representatives to pitch in at one time!
    • Plan ahead by getting a good night’s sleep before your load-in day so you’ll feel energized, refreshed and ready to tackle the fun weekend ahead. 
    • During load-in, you will have a very short time frame (approx. 30 minutes) during which you are physically able to pull your vehicle right up to where you’ll be mapped. It is crucial that you & your helper(s) are prepared to unload your display/merchandise very quickly onto the drop spot to then move your car & accommodate the next person. 
    • Consider your parking plan in advance. Exhibitor fees now include one parking pass per each day of participation for the Fairpark parking lot! You will receive your parking pass in your packet when you arrive at your designated load-in spot, so make sure that your parking pass is displayed on the dash of your vehicle any time you are parked in the lot or you will be ticketed by the Fairpark. If your load in plan requires more than one vehicle, plan to purchase an extra parking pass after the parking lot ticket booth opens (generally around 11 a.m.), or have a plan to utilize the free street parking available in the area.  If you plan on utilizing street parking, be mindful of street signage & neighborhood restrictions. Unfortunately, we have no control over the Fairpark or street parking rules, but we are here to help you identify potential solutions if you have any questions regarding parking!

    Planning Your Exhibitor Space

    Your space size specifications are included in your acceptance email, so please consult it during preparations. You must adhere to the dimensions designated in your email!

    • Craft Lake City is on a very tight timeline for the festival production and is only able to provide exhibitors with a short window to set up and tear down. 
    • Practice setting up your display in advance. Do a test run of your set up at home and make sure there aren’t any improvements that can be made. It can be really helpful to photograph your booth all set up so that you have a merchandising map at the ready!
    • Consider what type of merchandise you’re selling and how easy it’ll be to load-in/out and set up. 
    • You want your display to be completely set up by the time customers arrive. Having a messy/unfinished booth looks unprofessional and can deter customers from coming over, so having a set up that you can easily complete in the allotted time is important
    • Tearing down your display before public hours close is PROHIBITED, as it may deter people from shopping from you, negatively impact your neighbor exhibitor’s experience and negatively impact the experience of festival attendees. Violating this policy may threaten your ability to participate in future CLC events (we notice)!


    You can consult this webpage to see examples of the different types of exhibitor space sizes & ways to construct your required “back wall.” Generally speaking, a 5’x10’ space will accommodate a table & backdrop, whereas a 10’x10’ will serve as more of a mini, walk-in shop. Remember that the “back wall” is mandatory for all exhibitors, regardless of category, space size, or whether you’re indoors or outdoors, with accompanying 20lb weights on each side to secure it! 

    Why do I need to bring a “back wall”?

    It helps highlight you & your work in a large festival environment by physically separating you from your neighbor and serves as a great way for you to implement plenty of branding, signage & even possible merchandise display (if you’re able to hang your merchandise)! 

    • Having all exhibitors use a “back wall” makes for a visually pleasing & organized event design. It allows a consistent merchandising experience for festival-goers. A market, especially one as large-scale as DIY Fest, looks fractured if only some people bring a back wall & others don’t. 
    • A “back wall” creates a focused interaction with the customer, making visitors feel like they’re really inside a mini pop-up shop. It helps to decrease the sense of overwhelm, allowing folks to immerse themselves into each individual branded space. Side walls are not required, but this can further help to accomplish this feeling.
    Why don’t I learn about my location before the festival?
      • The short answer is: last-minute changes ALWAYS happen! When we say “last minute”, we really mean it. In order to accommodate these shifts, exhibitor locations are kept confidential until you arrive on-site for your assigned load-in time. 
      • If you DO want to know your space in advance & choose where you get located on the map, we have a premium Special Placement option for that. Read more about it on our FAQ page.
      • Outdoor exhibitors, check out our blog post about preparing for inclement weather when planning your setup & packing list!

    Special Notes for Craft Food Vendors

    Be sure to research and secure your required food exhibitor permits well in advance. It takes significant time to prepare these materials, and failing to secure them before the event means that you WILL get shut down on-site by the health department. Craft Lake City provides exhibitor information to the health department in advance so that they know who will be at the event & who to cross-check for permits. Be sure to read your acceptance email for more information about required permitting for food exhibitors so that you know these expectations before committing to paying your exhibitor fees! Don’t do yourself a disservice by putting off this crucial step of your participation! Please note that Craft Lake City cannot provide refunds to any food exhibitors who are shut down by the health department due to a lack of permitting, not adhering to proper food handling protocol or otherwise.


    Use your best judgment in deciding how much product to prep: There are innumerable factors that play into one’s financial success & sales in a festival environment such as DIY Fest & it is impossible for Craft Lake City to provide estimates on how much product we suggest that you make. The best thing we can suggest is to research the market & scope out the other exhibitors in your category. You can preview all Annual Craft Lake City DIY Festival exhibitors on the event page of our website, sorting by “Craft Food” to see how many others we have in this category, as well as getting a sense for how many are in direct competition to your specific type of food product. Past DIY Festivals have consistently seen over 20,000 attendees over the course of the 3-day weekend, but we cannot predict consumer patterns, weather or appetites! At the end of the day, you know your product & your business better than anyone, so use your best judgment in developing a game plan for food prep/volume. When in doubt, you can always try getting in touch with other exhibitors (especially seasoned DIY Festival participants) to see if they have any specific guidance to impart!


    For more information about required craft food permitting, click here.

    Want to learn more about Craft Lake City? Check out our programming here!