INTERFLORA WORLD CUP Pt 1
Interflora World Cup 2023
Artisan Village - Manchester Central Convention Centre
Well it's been a week since the heatwave hit it's peak here in the UK and sadly all but grey skies and rain remains, It's also been a week since myself and over 40 other Artisan traders set up for a three day event at Manchester Central to support the crowds at the Interflora World Cup 2023 however, the buzz is still well and truly sticking around.
Here's a full on account of my week:
Set up day was a hot sweaty one but one I will remember for all of the right reasons.
I had help in the form of my super friend Sarah and her trusty VW polo. Luckily I was only bringing one large scale piece and that rolled up nicely and slotted in down the middle. I had piled all of my set up kit and stock at home and we made speedy work packing the car and made it in to Emporium M33 by 11.30am to pack down my space there and collect a few additional bits of kit.
A quick trip to pick up some lunch and we met the tenacious Des from Willow Goat Crafts himself in the supermarket car park driving his Goatmobile topped with two hand woven willow trees strapped to his roof!!! We had decided to drive into Manchester in convoy to limit the possibility of one of us getting lost and missing our unload slot. To be fair, driving in to Manchester was less stress than we had anticipated and in all honesty a bit of a giggle following Des in his big white van with his bouncing sculptures a top! We arrived in plenty of time, after one tiny little detour loop around the Locks, fairly relaxed and buzzing to get started.
The Convention Centre was enormous with lots of neat little gazebos all set up around the outside of the space. The main event would be taking place in the centre of the hall and we managed a sneak peek at the structures in the competitor stands to give us a taste of what was to come and another sneaky peek at some of the awesome installations set to wow visitors over the next few days.
Des and I were pitched next door to each other which was an absolute dream and I was very much looking forward to the rest of the week and being entertained by his unique sense of humour.
The unload was hard work in the heat, especially with a broken foot and Des and I both panicked at the amount of stuff we'd brought with us, However, we were in a state of delirium for most of the afternoon frantically opening boxes and unpacking bits and bobs dressed in our high vis jackets with permanent grins. The anticipation of what was to come the next day was almost too much. Sarah and Des were absolute legends the whole day and made sure we had a blast.
I did have to take a break once or twice to rest and elevate my foot much to the amusement of other traders and staff but the cold floor of the Convention Centre was a welcome distraction from the heatwave outside.
Once done, Des trotted off to get the van whilst I sat outside the loading area on a chair following a tired stumble on my crutches and I watched the trams whizz by in the sun not realising that I must have been an odd sight to the commuters aboard. (Granted it's not the oddest thing you'll see around Manchester City centre) but I did feel a little silly as the Altrincham tram scooted past.
Once home I collapsed in a heap after a cold shower and the evening called for an early night so I would be ready for the fun to begin the next day. I retired that night restful in the knowledge that all my set up for the morning was complete which is a feeling I never have the night before an event.
Not knowing what to expect on day one was a bit daunting and once I had tweaked my space a touch here and there I was happy for the doors to open.
People began streaming in and the buzz began to grow. A flag parade, a live quartet playing Green Day and a general feeling of excitement filled the hall. Gorgeous flowers were being wheeled around on trolleys and visitors were proudly showing off the pretty corsages they had made in some of the workshops. I joined in dressing up by donning the beautiful Summer hat on my stall.
Competitors were filing past following their tasks of the day and we commented how Ivan Restrepo, the Columbian competitor looked so endearing and always had a beaming smile on his face. Elizabeth Newcombe of the UK passed by our stalls often along with her assistant and the two were always full of good spirits and charm if a little bemused at the twice-a-day flag parade.
Customers stopped to comment on my large backdrop a lot and I had a few sales of Fairies and Rainbows in the morning. By the afternoon sales had begun to pick up rather a lot. I met florists who were interested in my plant hangers and nostalgic ladies who had learned the craft as youngsters.
In my down time I had begun to create a Macrame Lily. I mean, it was the INTERFLORA WORLD CUP after all, It was set to be larger than any flower I had made before.
Sitting creating was a lot of fun and definitely grabbed people's attention, Customers from many corners of the world stopped to watch or film me knotting. Many people had a go themselves and enjoyed learning about my craft and hearing how it all began.
Our mutual friend Bec, from Black Raven Flowers and Curiosities came to help us out at lunchtime and brought goodies and treats to keep us going and when the three of us get together there is nothing but fun.
Our afternoon was filled with laughs as expected and was really good sales wise. A cheeky gin cocktail to end the day resulted in a rather giggly tram ride back to Sale in the commuter rush hour. I told you, things are always fun with these two in tow.
Check back for Pt 2 tomorrow.