I always seem to be the first in and nearly last out at these outdoor art fairs and continue to learn something new at each one. For example, I have these very expensive Italian wood frames that damage so easily. I had the perfect protective covering with custom made bubble wrap bags that I created and card board corners. After that I used the black split foam used on PVC (without the adhesive) to put on the long parts of the wood frame edges and it worked fantastic. Perfect for shipping, not so much for outdoor art fairs, because it took forever to remove, store, and then reinstall the packing materials. Another down side to bubble wrap and black foam is that if left in the sun, each little bubble acts as a magnifying glass and melts the black foam to the bag. That was a painful learning experience!
I have moved on to a totally new system where I create the plastic bags from heavy duty vinyl film you buy at home depot. I duct tape the edges inside and out so they don't stick to the painting or the plastic bags as they are inserted into the newly created 1/4" inch foam envelopes I make. I get the foam in rolls from ULINE in the 48" width and they are like crazy big! They were so big, I had to take the two rolls and unwind them into four rolls so they would fit through my front door. The cost for those two rolls was just a bit over $200.00 but I have enough foam now to do about a bazillion paintings, at least! What's really nice is that once I slip the painting into the vinyl bag, it glides into the white foam envelopes really fast! The plastic protects the canvas surface too. The foam cushions it when they are stacked in the vehicle. It used to take me three to four hours to take down my show at these events. We now have that down to about and hour, or an hour and a half. I also have my smaller pieces in foam envelopes and put a lot of them in standard boxes I got from ULINE. With the similar shape and sizes, they fit well, load in and out surprisingly fast, and add an extra layer of cardboard protection when stacked.
I also added velcro tabs to keep the loose vinyl from flapping in the ever present wind and rain that you can expect at almost every show! Better prepared than sorry.
Good luck out there this year at your shows! Kris and I are living the dream and loving every minute of it! Make sure you keep your shows positive and upbeat and always remember, many of them are not about making a profit, winning awards, etc. Sometimes the shows promote a very worthy cause that is much greater than us and you are very much paying it forward just by being a part of the event, so be proud of that, even if your sales are lackluster.
See ya on the road!