Southern Charm At The Farm is one of the largest antiques, arts & craft shows on the eastern side of the United States. The event brings together nearly 300 juried artisans and 30,000+ shoppers. Their motto is “Community Over Competition.” As a result, there is a spirit of cooperation among the vendors and that spirit is infectious.
This spring marked my third Southern Charm at The Farm event and there was a familiarity to the process. I packed the Jeep Wrangler full of my wares and traveled to Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, North Carolina. I wanted to get in and out of the park as quickly as possible. My set-up time was late in the afternoon on Friday and as one of nearly three hundred vendors, I knew I would have at least a short wait in line. While waiting, the wind began to blow powerfully. Along the edge of the field, several massive trees roiled with the gusts of wind that poured through their branches. My eyes were drawn to the vendors setting up their stations. Many of them were trying desperately to hold their tents down to the ground.
When my escort turned up in a golf cart I followed behind them around the perimeter of the field. Across the field, several tents were staked out and connected with tie-down straps to cinder blocks. Moments later, we arrived at my ten-foot by ten-foot plot of grass and I stepped into the 25-50 mph wind gusts. I pulled my tent, sandbags and bungee cords out of the Wrangler and thought, “What could possibly go wrong?”
Another vendor noticed me pulling gear out of the truck and asked me if I needed any help. “No thanks,” was my initial reply, but moments later an extra set of hands seemed pretty, well... “handy”. Luckily, my neighbor, Drew of Southern Fragrances Candle Co., was still available and kind enough to help. As we set up the tent, he asked, “Do you want to leave the tent low or set it up all the way?”
“All the way,” I replied.
“Are you going to do a partial or full setup tonight?” he asked.
“I’ll probably do it all now,” I said.
Drew helped me set up my tent then returned to help his wife Mandy.
My tent seemed solid. The bungee cords and sandbags worked well. I only needed to hang the sidewalls, unload the rest of my gear and get out of “Dodge”. The first sidewall was easy. The second sidewall was easy too. I zipped them together at the corner and began hanging the third one in place. Just then, a gust of wind transformed my tent into a rather large and dangerous kite!
As I held onto my tent for dear life, the complexity of the situation sank in. There was literally no way I could do a full set up. Perhaps my neighbor’s earlier questions were gestures of goodwill. I resolved to do a partial setup that afternoon and finish in the morning. This was fairly easy to accomplish and before long, my partial setup was done. I was good to go. Except for one thing...
While I had been hanging precariously onto my tent, just a couple rows over a tent was blown sideways and had crashed into an adjacent vendor’s setup. As much as I wanted to be done and roll on home, I knew somebody had helped me and that was really the way things ought to be. So I, along with several other folks, helped as best we could. The tent was pretty mangled but I don’t think any merchandise was damaged. Somebody contacted the vendor whose tent was destroyed so they wouldn’t have to face the bad news in the morning and could get a new tent before the show if they wanted to.
With that issue resolved and my work done, I hopped in my Jeep and cranked it up. Just as I was about to put her in drive and roll off, I paused. I got out of my Jeep and approached Drew and asked, “Hey man, do you guys need any help setting up?”
“No thanks man, we’ve got it,” Drew replied.
“See you tomorrow then,” I said and drove on home.
The following morning, the air was cool, setup was a breeze (pun intended), and we had a great event at Southern Charm at The Farm, where the community truly is over the competition.