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Tips on working Tarot festivals and fairs

I just spent a glorious weekend in Elora, Ontario at the Elora Tarot and Divination Festival. This was the second year Shelley Carter organized this lovely event, and I hope its going to be an annual one for many years to come.

Throughout the weekend, I was truly grateful for Shelley’s excellent organization (it is not an easy feat to wrangle a bunch of diviners). Thanks to her efforts, the festival was really well attended, the set up was easy, the volunteers were amazing, all of the readers and vendors were able to get down to what they were there to do without frustration or confusion.

So, this got me thinking about what I did right as a participant, and where I need to reorganize myself. Here are some tips on how to thrive and be successful if you’re thinking of setting up your own table at a divination festival or local fair.

My set up at the Elora Tarot and Divination Festival
  1. Choose the event wisely. Do some research before you commit. Is the event a longstanding favourite? Something new with a lot of buzz? Is it in a convenient and easily accessible location? Or, if not, is it in a location that has some draw of its own? What kind of attendance does it attract? Make sure you have all the information you need concerning fees, and what is included in those fees. Find out if you need to bring your own table/furniture/booth/chairs, if WiFi is available, and if there are any restrictions as far as set up and signage. Find out how the event will be promoted. Will the organizers promote you and the event widely (and how), or are you expected to do that all on your own? Go into things with as much information about logistics as you can.
  2. Be a pro. Know what you’re doing. Be confident in your skills and the value that you’re offering to your clients. If this is in question, beyond the understandable and natural nerves, perhaps the time isn’t right to dive into the world of events.
  3. Decide what you are offering and set your prices. If you’re doing readings only, set your prices and display them clearly. I prefer to offer shorter readings at festivals, 15 or 30 minutes max, because of the high energy, lack of privacy and noise. You can decide if you charge for a certain length of time, or if you prefer to charge for a specific kind of reading. I personally like to be clear about the length of the reading, and then I do my best to manage the reading and keep it on time. If you lose track of this, you can very quickly get behind schedule. As an aside, I often offer readings, teach a class, and sell my magical jewelry at events. Having more than one offering can maximize the valuable time you are spending there.
  4. Payment. Decide if you will accept cash only, or if you’re willing and able to take credit cards or other forms of payment. Cash is the easiest, but you may lose sales if that’s all you accept. I like the Square card reader. They charge a fee, but for me it has been worthwhile. It is always a good idea to make it easy for people to pay you. On that note, it is preferable to collect that payment before you do the reading, this avoids confusion and allows your customer to leave your table thinking about the wonderful experience of their reading rather than mundane things like money.
  5. Solo act or tag team. It can be challenging to run your booth/table on your own. If you don’t have help, have a schedule/time sheet available so that people can sign up for a particular time slot without you having to manage that process. If you are doing readings and selling products, it is almost impossible to do this well on your own. Consider having another person with you, so that they can handle sales while you are reading. If you can’t have someone there with you all day, see if there is someone who can cover your table while you take a lunch or bathroom break.
  6. Self care. Bring lots of water with you, and be sure to drink it. Bring snacks, you may not have time to stop for a meal, and food may not be readily available. Block off time in your schedule for short breaks throughout the day. Know yourself – how many readings can you do before you need a break? You don’t want your readings to suffer because you’re frazzled or tired, and ideally you don’t want to leave the event as a shell of your former self.
  7. Put aside some time for fun. Take the opportunity to get to know the other amazing vendors that are sharing your space. If the event is in a unique location (like Elora), make time to explore the area, or to decompress after the event at a local establishment. Take advantage of the many benefits of working an event, aside from the financial rewards.
With fellow diviner, the amazing and charming Marilyn Shannon

Tarot festivals and fairs can be a great way to hone your Tarot skills, to get to know your community, to introduce people to who you are and what you do, and give you the chance to connect with your fellow diviners. They are not for the faint of heart, these events can be draining and time consuming, and you may not get the financial pay off that you desire. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time, and then just go with the flow. Often times I have experienced long term benefits from events, so try not to stress. Trust that you’ve done your research and you’re there for a reason that will unfold in its own good time.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED RESOURCES: Have Tarot Will Party: A Comprehensive Guide to Party Reading for the Tarot Professional and Have Tarot Will Travel: A Comprehensive Guide to Reading at Festivals as a Tarot Professional by Jenna Matlin.

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