Jewelry Editors’ 10+ Tips for Attending Bead Fest and Traveling to Jewelry Shows

Bead Fest is right around the corner and we’re gearing up for a great show. We can’t wait to welcome you and help you have a wonderful experience, whether taking a class, shopping, visiting with friends, or all of the above. A recent team conversation included some fun (and useful) tips on how to approach the show. We have some team members who will be attending Bead Fest for the first time, but these seem perfect to share with even a seasoned veteran. They might even provide a smile or an LOL situation.

editors' tips for attending Bead Fest and other jewelry shows

Do: Find the balance between socializing with vendors and being the silent speed-shopper! It’s easy to get wrapped up in meeting all these wonderful, creative people, but if you spend 15 minutes in every booth, you’ll never make it through the whole show floor. My mom and I love to go to bead shows together, but she’s a chatter. She will visit one booth in the time it takes me to shop the whole aisle! But you don’t want to miss out on a cool experience like a demo or an interesting product, so make sure you give each booth a look-see!

Don’t: Don’t spend your whole budget in the first few booths! If you see something spectacular, but you’re not ready to pull the trigger, walk away. Write down the booth number and a couple of reminder notes about what you saw and how much it cost. If it’s still on your mind after a few booths, go back!

–Meredith Steele, Technical Editor, Beadwork Magazine

editors' tips for attending Bead Fest and other jewelry shows

Do: Read the show schedule ahead of time to make a plan for booths you want to visit and what you intend to shop for. This will help you budget both your time and money.

Don’t: Don’t be afraid to deviate from your schedule or plan if an unexpected opportunity presents itself. Allow time for impromptu conversations with vendors or designers, and budget some extra money for impulse purchases.

–Lavon Peters, Managing Editor, Beadwork Magazine

editors' tips for attending Bead Fest and other jewelry shows

My advice? Make notes, make a record, shoot it with your phone, write it down. I always think I’ll remember where something was, or how much it was, or what size something I have at home is. Silly! I never remember, and if I think I do remember, that’s worse, because I usually “remember” it wrong.

So, make a list of what you want to look for, whether you need it or not. Then, go through the show looking for those things. If you come upon something that’s close but want to look some more, make a note of what you did see with all the details you’ll need for comparison shopping: price, color, size, quantity, booth name and number, and what else was there.

editors' tips for attending Bead Fest and other jewelry shows

Because so much of the fun of going to shows is discovering something you didn’t know you needed or wanted, of course you’ll want to do a walk-through that’s just for that. I recommend doing at least two walk-throughs, though: one for the advance list, when you’re on a mission. The other is for fun, just bouncing around at whatever calls to you. In theory one could do each booth for mission and fun at the same time, but I get way too distracted for that to work for me.

And when you get back home with all your treasures, keep a record of where you found them. You might need some more before the next show. And you’ll probably want to go back to see what else they have when the next show does roll around.

–Merle White, Editor-in-Chief, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Magazine

editors' tips for attending Bead Fest and other jewelry shows

Do: Remember to eat something and hydrate! (I tend to forget.)

Don’t: Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the workshop teachers, vendors, and show organizers. It’s how you learn. And how you make friends.

Do: Make a list of exactly what you’re looking for. But don’t forget that you’ll find something unexpected you just HAVE to have. So do have a budget and stick to it (if you can).

–Karla Rosenbusch, Managing Editor, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Magazine

editors' tips for attending Bead Fest and other jewelry shows

Do: Bring cash. It’s great to just hand over cash for small purchases and not have to wait in line for credit card processing.

Also do: I’ve learned to pay attention to signs on the walls and doors, on the food court tables, even on the bathroom mirrors! Some folks put out flyers announcing their special events that you won’t want to miss.

Don’t: Don’t pick fashion over function! Wear comfy shoes. It would be a shame to have to stop shopping early because your poor feet are d-o-n-e.

editors' tips for attending Bead Fest and other jewelry shows

Don’t: Don’t miss the designer area for one-of-a-kind artistic components. I also find lots of interesting new products there from new vendors who are just starting out.

Don’t miss out on a special find when you discover it. Allow a little mad money in your budget for impulse buys so you don’t regret not making a purchase or, even worse, go back for it and it’s gone.

–Tammy Jones, Editor, Bead & Jewelry Group

editors' tips for attending Bead Fest and other jewelry shows

Don’t wear high heels (or flip flops) for walking the show floor. Do consider comfortable shoes for getting around to each of your favorite vendors and for dodging the rain when heading to your car. (Inevitably, every year there is a downpour around 6:00 on Saturday of this show!) Oh, and pack an umbrella.

Don’t forget to bring your safety glasses (and magnifiers) so you can take in all the fun demonstrations on the show floor and maybe even participate!

–Tammy Honaman, Editor, Beadwork Magazine

editors' tips for attending Bead Fest and other jewelry shows

Have a Bead Fest tip to share? Please leave it in the comments!

And please, stop by the Interweave booth to say hello, take in our demos, learn about some new products, ask questions, or take seat on us. Most importantly, share your special finds with us–we’d love to see what you found at Bead Fest and learn what your plan is for it when you get home!

See you at Bead Fest!

Learn how to travel to shows like Bead Fest with your beading supplies and jewelry-making tools.


If you can’t make it to Bead Fest this year, learn from some of our top teachers at home!

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