The picture above was taken at yesterday’s Summerfest in Ridgefield, CT. Now I happen to know Ridgefield pretty well, because this swanky, little town is about an hour’s drive from where I live in AR-rein Massachusetts, and the town happens to contain a very nice consignment shop which is often a weekend shopping destination for my wife. Unfortunately, it was really too hot yesterday for me to go anywhere, but it didn’t stop the Connecticut Against Gun Violence organization from setting up a booth at the Summerfest fair and promoting away.
Of course CAGV had to compete with the food vendors, the craft vendors, the crap vendors, et. al., but that’s just the point. Because if you think that most Americans don’t have an extra buck in their pockets, if you think that America is going to buy Donald Trump’s hate-filled lies about how the national economy is on the verge of collapse, walk down the main street of just about any town during July or August and you’ll see the equivalent of Ridgefield’s Summerfest taking place.
Know how many Farmers Markets there are in the United States? The Ag Department says the number is, ready? 8,400. Which means an average of 168 in every state. Know how many adults visit craft fairs and art festivals each year? Well in 2008 it was 55 million. There’s a website out there which posts art/craft fairs and right now lists 26,000 events. And by the way, for all the talk about how shoppers love a bargain, I don’t know about you, but the local Farmers Market near me has prices on cheese and allegedly home-baked breads that are out of sight.
Listening MOMS? Listening Everytown? Listening Brady? I have an idea. It’s my understanding that most of these fairs, markets, whatever they are will rent booth space for 100 bucks a pop. And over the course of a weekend, a good arts/craft/food fair must draw 10,000 people and up. So let’s say you set up a booth and half of the fair visitors walk by. Do the arithmetic, as Bill Clinton would say, and it cost two cents to get your message in front of each of these folks. And if two hundred people stop, talk, discuss and share their feelings about guns and gun violence, it costs you 50 cents to connect directly and sincerely with people whose views on this issue probably aren’t much different from yours. And if you make up a hip and cool t-shirt or a baseball cap or something else they can buy, you’ll easily make up the cost of the booth, the cost of your travel to the fair and, most important, you’ll raise awareness and get new people to join the cause.
Every September there is something called the Garlic Festival nearby my town which features booths of organizations that “share the wonderful service, justice, environmental, education and health work they contribute to the region.” I guarantee you that this festival will never, never rent a booth to the NRA. And by the way, I am sure that the same weekend of the Garlic Festival I could also find a gun show in a nearby state or town. Know how many gun shows there are each year? The Violence Policy Center says the number is somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000; I think the higher number is probably closer to the truth. So it’s 5,000 gun shows versus 26,000 art/craft fairs? Give me a friggin’ break.
I’ll donate $500 bucks right now to the first GVP organization which organizes an effort to establish its presence at craft/art/food shows on a regular, ongoing basis in different states. Because these events attract people who represent a natural constituency for GVP groups, and if there is such a strategy currently being carried out, please let me know about it so that I can promote and publicize the work even more. There’s simply no way that this shouldn’t or couldn’t be done.