Arts and crafts

About twice a year my little town is invaded by an outdoor craft show. We walk down to the town square and shuffle through the wares. Usually it is very crowded, because every year it seems to get more popular. The same vendors come year after year, often located in the same rental space. Traffic in town slows to a crawl, and even pedestrian travel is executed at the speed of dog-walkers and baby carriages and kids in wagons.


I don’t do well in crowds. They make me anxious. But every year I go down there and participate in the ritual. We almost never buy anything, since most of the things being sold are just clutter. They are invariably cute things that must be dusted, and that end their lives for 50 cents in the garage sale that we will someday have to unload all of this crap. Many items are intended for deck, patio, or cabin, and so must be ruthlessly tasteless and cheezy.


You have to feel sorry for the vendors, though, because for many of them the entire summer will be spent this way. Travel expenses must be awful, not to mention the joys to packing and unpacking all that stock. It used to be that the items for sale were hand-made by the sellers, and that is true for some, but more common now is re-sale of cheaply manufactured goods selected for the purpose. Many vendors mix the two. For some the exercise of capitalism overcomes their common sense. Do you really expect to sell a skein of yarn for $40? To who?


At least the weather is finally good. Perfect for traipsing about the cobblestones with snow cones and hot dogs, cheesy fries, tacos, and funnel cake. It’s a good thing we’re walking home.

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6 Responses to Arts and crafts

  1. Some of my relatives in Michigan used to go around to some festivals and fairs as vendors. In the beginning they sold small antiques and items (such as old iron tractor seats) that “big-city” people would buy for the kitsch and the rarity (in Michigan, anyway – we supplied them with dozens of said seats because they were plentiful here) … and my aunt would sell a few hand-crafted items. Then they got into buying crappy little items from wholesalers and began enjoying the packing/unpacking/storing less and less because the money was no longer there. They haven’t ‘done’ any sales for over 5 years, and don’t miss it one bit.

  2. I’m guessing the $40 skein of yarn was hand-spun out of wool sheared from an organically-raised sheep. There’s a yarn shop in my town that sells stuff like this: it’s popular, among knitters who insist on using “organic” yarn not made by a machine.

    (That’s not me, by the way. I can’t afford it, and those vegetable dyes they use often run and turn your hands black or purple.)

    I stopped going to these fairs a while back, for the reasons you cite: a dislike of crowds and realizing that most of the stuff for sale is garage sale fodder. There’s a huge art fair in Minneapolis that’s held right in the middle of thunderstorm season, and it’s dismaying to see the vendors scrambling to hold up their tents and protect their merchandise as rain pours out of the sky and winds blast through the streets. Then of course, customers scatter and go home, affecting attendance. We used to take shelter in a nearby restaurant with a good bar: but after a beer or two, we would lose interest in the arts and crafts. I think that was the same for the other fairgoers who followed us out of the storm.

  3. kimkiminy says:

    I think you underestimate how crazy knitters are for searching out that “perfect” skein of yarn in some color or texture no one has ever seen before.

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