The Abbey Fest 2017 - Experience
Hello everyone and Happy Fall!
I apologize for the lack of scribbles… I’ve had my hands quite full. I wanted to share with you my thoughts from my first big event two weeks ago (I can’t believe it’s already been that long). This is a longer post, but it's worth the read!
For those of you who do not know, I was a vendor at a Christian/Catholic event called The Abbey Fest. I had never been before as an attendee, so jumping right in as a vendor was challenging. Not to mention it was my first ever event.
A month in advance, I already began buying things. I tore up our living room. I laid out the tables exactly how I would have it at the festival, measured the space, set up the banner, everything. I had boxes upon boxes of things that I would take with me. I went shopping at four different stores and purchased lights, frames, prizes, and more. I also shopped for bracelets, guitar picks, t-shirts, posters, and (of course) the books.
I finally had everything in my hands on Thursday and began packing that night. I wasn’t able to put everything in the car until Friday evening.I wanted to get it all packed as quickly but efficiently as possible because I needed my rest.
The next morning we woke up around 3:45 AM. We needed to take 2 cars because my stuff would not fit into one, also my family needed places to sit. So, my very generous parents offered to drive both their cars so I wouldn’t need to waste gas and mileage on my new car. And so, we were on our way to PA from NY before 5:00 am.
We only made two stops along the way. We stopped for breakfast once the sun was coming up and then another time for coffee about 3 minutes away from our destination.
When we arrived, it was 8:15 AM. There were several time slots throughout the morning for vendors to come and we were given the earliest. At first, I was slightly nervous. I was panicking because I thought we were going the wrong way and going to be late (but no one can really trust Siri). We made it in perfect time and pulled up to each station, checking in and receiving our welcome packet. The woman who was in charge, Mary Kate, was very helpful and enthusiastic. She told us everything we needed to know, and we went to our tent.
Pulling up to the spot (number 40), we had a dozen hands helping us unload. They had everything out of the cars within minutes. After they left, it was time for me to set up. So, after a little over an hour, I finally had everything set up just like I did at home. All I had to do then was wait.
Before any attendees arrived, I went over to the volunteers who assisted us and gave them free bracelets, explaining the meanings behind each of the colors. They were very grateful and a few came to visit me afterward!
Finally, people began to come. It was slow in the beginning because the festival was from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm. (It was also painfully hot...) However, it only took 20 minutes for me to sell my first book at that event! A big achievement for me. Frankly, I wasn’t sure how many I was going to sell, but I sold one before 11:30 and that was huge.
So, throughout the day I had many visitors. It wasn’t until the afternoon that I started selling more books. I had so many people coming in I didn’t have time to sit down! I was so grateful. I probably repeated my book description about 1,000 times that day. I met so many great people that day. A few came in and acquired about me speaking at their events and/or getting my books for book clubs. (I have started working already on a free study guide for my novel.) I’m hoping that they continue to remain in contact with me.
Being a Catholic/Christian concert, they celebrated Mass at 4:00 pm. At that time, all the vendors were to “close up” for the hour. It was beautiful seeing thousands of people acting so reverent in an open space and celebrating the Greatest Mystery. Truly inspiring.
Once this ended, everyone scurried to the food trucks to eat. I, however, remained behind and met more people. Some of them who visited in the morning returned and bought a book. Two girls who purchased my book earlier came back to thank me! They had already started reading it and loved it. All those who came to me were incredible people.
Finally, the night was coming to a close. The last performers were finishing up and they were going to end with an hour of Adoration. It was 9:30 PM and most of the other vendors had packed it up already. We were the last ones to put everything away. We left before the last hour because we were so exhausted. We did wake up before the sun after all. So, we said our goodnights and went to our hotel.
That was an incredible first event. I had a great experience and am definitely going back next year! Before I close my scribble, I want to tell you about one person who gave me a memory I could cherish forever.
There was a young boy about 15 or so who loved books. He was walking around until he stumbled across my booth. He had no money on him and seemed lonely. Only a book that he was already reading at the festival. So, immediately he took an interest in my novel. After telling him what it was about, he picked it up and began reading it. He stood in the corner of my booth for a half an hour reading. He put it down, said he loved it and then left. A few hours later, when it was getting dark, he returned and started reading again. After a while, my family and I looked at each other and thought the same thing. I called to him and told him he could keep it; my mom offered to pay for it for him. The look on his face was something I could not describe. He had such a joy in his eyes and couldn’t believe his ears. After putting it into a special Terran bag, he came around the table and gave me a big hug. He thanked me a million times and was so excited. After that, he returned and thanked me again, giving me a small donation that he had gotten from possibly his mom. To say thanks, we gave him a bracelet to go along with his book. He chose to be a part of Isle VI (Genetic Testing) and took a black bracelet.
That was one of the greatest moments of that night. Seeing the smile on that lonely boy’s face was enough, even if I hadn’t sold any books. Frankly, that’s what I want to do. Helping others and making them smile is all I need. If that’s all that ever comes out of my books, then that’s enough for me.
Be sure to check back in a few weeks for the short video of my time at the AbbeyFest!