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Dreams Come True At the Fair


Ever since I was a child, the Alameda County Fair has been my favorite place to hang out during the summer. Usually, I go with friends or sometimes I go alone. Some of my favorite attractions were the rides, food, games, and shopping exhibitions. However, I often wonder what it would be like to work at the fair or have my own booth.

In 2016, I received an email from the Alameda County Fair asking local artists to showcase art for the new Artist Alley, now called Makers’ Market. Since I’ve been taking art classes for two years at Laney College, this was a perfect opportunity to display my work to the public. I sent an email with my original paintings and former coordinator Melanie Johnston was so impressed, she encouraged me to join. My plan was to sell my paintings and do live painting demos for fair goers. Since I had no experience, it was a lot harder than I thought because very few people saw my demos and I only sold a few paintings. At least it was the start of something.

The next year, my original paintings were made into greeting cards after my grandfather passed away. This became one of my best sellers, but it was the slowest year because I only had three days to sell, and the weather was hot. By 2018 and 2019, I started to get an increase in sales, thanks to the logo, business cards, and brochures I created when I took Graphic Arts classes at Laney College.

During the Covid 19 Pandemic, the Alameda County Fair was canceled and Kevin’s Cards went on hiatus. This led to depression and not being able to hang out with anyone. In 2021, the Fair returned in the fall and Terri Thut asked me if I was interested in participating. At first, I wasn’t sure, but since this was Kevin’s Cards 5th Anniversary, I told her I would do it if I put my business back together. Even though it was a little slow at times, this was about a second chance.

Last year, Erika O’Bryan encouraged me to paint Ferris Wheels and swings. This led me to create paintings inspired by the Alameda County Fair including several buildings and the Fair logo. Since the sale was a huge success, I decided to write a book about my experience entitled Artist Alley: Kevin’s Cards at the Alameda County Fair. This talks about Artist Alley and provides tips on how to have a successful booth. I’ll be selling copies of it during the 2023 Alameda County Fair.

Overall, I enjoy showcasing my art at the Alameda County Fair because I love meeting new people and supporting local artists. More importantly, the entire staff are considered my heroes because they have inspired me to be a better person! If I didn’t get that email in 2021, Kevin’s Cards would likely go out of business!

“The Alameda County Fair is more than just a fair, it’s about making your dreams come true!”
-Kevin Smith