Does Lightning Strike Twice in Richmond?

Customers perusing artwork at Art in the Park art festival, Byrd Park, Richmond, VA

Arts in the Park, Byrd Park. Consistently one of my favorite shows. 

Except for last year. 

It began during setup on Friday afternoon. I had purchased a new, used tent from artists who were also exhibiting at the park. They were kind enough to show me how the pieces all came together.

My husband, who is missing the Ikea gene, wandered off, and while being momentarily distracted, managed to trip over a booth marker. Ouch! He suffered a concussion and thought he had broken his wrist. We spent the evening at an urgent care center.

Very early Saturday morning, I hurriedly continued setting up but crowds started arriving before everything was secured. Suddenly, I realized my purse was missing. 

Panic overcame me. I couldn't think, I couldn't see. 

I asked my artist neighbor to lend me his senses and calm nerves. It turned out I had left my purse in the car. Phew. Disaster abated. But wait!

At Saturday's close, my husband returned to pick me up. Our hotel was a 20-minute drive away in Short Pump. He said the car, a small VW Tiguan with only 58K miles, started shaking uncontrollably on the highway. He was half-expecting the car to explode. 

VW Tiguan dashboard showing problems

We called AAA but then immediately canceled. After all, no mechanic was open on Saturday night. More importantly, I realized that I needed a place to store my booth and paintings at teardown the following day.

By then, Byrd Park was nearly empty but for a small group of convivial artists gathered nearby. It turned out that one of them lived near our hotel. A godsend! He gave us a lift, then even offered to pick me up the following day.

It rained all day on Sunday.

It was cold, wet, and miserable. The area around my tent turned into a slippery slope. My husband, not wanting to hang around all day in the rain with his finger in a splint, remained at the hotel. Then at teardown, the fun began.

I packed up in the mud, hauled my gear across the wet grass in several trips, then picked up my sputtering car from artist parking. 

I proceeded to load up the car but the new, used tent wouldn't fit. The poles were too long, and the bag was too heavy for me to lift onto the roof rack. I looked around for help.

Ah, an idea. I shoved the tent bag all the way to the front between the driver and passenger seats. It fit. Barely. Then loading continued but not without a whole lot of cursing. The car was too packed and the rear door wouldn't shut.

I recall having to give myself a pep talk, "1-2-3. PUSH!" I gave it all I had and more. Miraculously, the heavy pile inched forward. Thank you, Jesus! I also patted myself on the back. With my slight frame, I didn't think I could do it, but I did. Okay, just a little bit more. 1-2-3-PUSH! It moved only another half an inch, but it was all I needed to shut the hatch door. Another big sigh of relief.

Then I called AAA, thinking I still had 40 minutes to strap everything else onto my roof rack and back trailer.

I had requested a flatbed truck to prevent the platform trailer from dragging the concrete, which is what would've happened had the car been towed at an angle. But wouldn't you know, the AAA flatbed truck happened to be only five minutes away? The bungees started flying. It wasn't the tidiest strapping job I had ever done but I had plenty of straps to go around.

Exhausted, I hopped onto the truck with the very nice, lovely tow truck guys.  It was a dramatic exit out of the park. Long truck, patrol lights flashing, with my poor, little car chained to the back, strapped to the gills with art.

So, Richmond, it's a year later and I'm returning to Arts in the Park. What can I say? I like Richmond. Beautiful, friendly place with good restaurants, a patient AAA staff (lol), lots of culture, with an educated population that appreciates art. What's not to like? 

Does lightning strike twice? I hope not. But just to be safe, I requested a booth location closer to Rugby Road and away from that muddy, slippery slope. Also, I'm staying at a downtown hotel this time around. So rain or shine, Richmond, bring it on. I'm ready.

Please come by, say hello, and make my day. Booth #60, across the grassy aisle from my previous location. Hope to see you there!

Arts in the Park art festival map, Byrd Park, Richmond, VA