Friday, March 12, 2010

2009 Season Plans

Watch here for more news. We'll be at the Intel Farmer Markets in DuPont, WA, and we'll be at the Lacey Community Markets. In the fall, expect to see us at all the normal craft fairs, starting with the Thurston County Fairgrounds perennial pleaser, "Homemade for the Holidays".

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tenino Winterfest 2008

This year I attended the Tenino Winterfest at Tenino High School.  The Tenino Food Bank sponsored the event, and they did a really nice thing for attending vendors: They provided free booth spaces.  The event is annual, and is well-known locally in Tenino.  Since it's very close to home, I thought we should get a booth space and give it a try.  I was pleasantly surprised by both the size and the attendance.

As a vendor, I like to help a worthwhile cause when I can.  With this year being as tough as it has been, food banks across the country are struggling to keep enough food to help those that need it.  Attending the Tenino Winterfest craft bazaar felt like a good way to show support for such an important community element.

The event is held in the high school's gymnasium, which is a pretty decent size, allowing for decently sized booths. 
 The variety of vendors was very good given that most were from the immediate vicinity.  I am always amazed by the amount and diversity of talent we have in our area: From a local chocolatier like Aunt Kate's Chocolates to a local lapidary/jewelry/beadmaker business like The Pacifik Image, Tenino's Winterfest offers a lot to the attendee in search of a unique gift.

High school students were present, providing ginger-bread house-making skills for small donations.  The food bank and its troop of organizers made sure there was a food court.  Vendors were invited to provide goods for a raffle to further entice attendance.  All are good ways to keep attendees in attendance.
There are probably a couple tweaks the event could make to improve the experience for the vendor, but overall, I'd have to say it's a nice little craft fair with a lot of potential.

8th Annual Olympia Bearzaar

I cannot say enough good things about the Olympia Bearzaar.  Kathy Thompson is the organizer, andI'm told she manages to grow the bazaar every year.  This is my first year attending as a vendor, but it was the biggest craft fair I've attended, and I couldn't have been more pleased with attendee turnout.

From a vendor's perspective, Kathy's organization is unequaled when compared to any of the other bazaars on this blog.  From my first interactions with Kathy, through load-out on the day of the event, her hand was visible in every aspect of the show.  Student helpers, dressed in easily-recognizable blue aprons, were available at load-in to help vendors.  Borrowed shopping carts were available for hauling goods and fixutres from cars.  Students were assigned to zones to take lunch orders prior to the start of the event.  Students or helpers came by booths throughout the day to ensure vendors' needs were met.  I came away feeling like I was a valued participant in the bazaar, and that goes a long way to helping me decide if I'll be back.

Attendance was phenomenal, as you would expect from a bazaar that is well publicized.  Despite a supposed miss by The Olympian's printed newspaper, by mid-day, the school could be described as crowded.  Kathy pulled in a local teachers' sorority to manage the food court, and with reasonable prices and a wide variety, people were able to browse all day.  Several attendees stopped by my booth multiple times throughout the day.

Another nice thing about the Bearzaar is that it seems like it is becoming a local institution.  It's in only its eighth year, but several attendees told me they've made it part of their holiday tradition.  I enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces in attendance; kids' grade school teachers, old neighbors, friends, acquaintances all made the experience one worth repeating.

East Olympia Elementary Craft Fair

I was lucky to find the East Olympia Elementary Craft Fair, sponsored by the East Olympia 5th Grade and the PTA.  It was this craft fair's first year, and it was a decent attempt for a first-year event.  I had originally planned to attend the South Puget Sound Community College Craft Fair, but it was canceled this year, with the economy cited as the reason.  I like to chat with folks that come by my booth at the fairs, and most people were at fairs this year because of the economy.  The common sentiment was that craft fairs and crafters have generally lower prices for a more personable product.  Hopefully this sentiment finds its way back to SPSCC.

The East Oly bazaar was held in the elementary's gym, 
so it was limited in vendors by the space available. Booths were proportionately small as a result but still adequate for my two tables.  Traffic was ok, and the organizer did a good job of trying to have attractions that would draw locals: She had a clown present for most of the day; she made a bake sale a part of the event; she got the East Olympia Fire Department to bring an engine for the kids to explore; and she placed signs along approaches in the vicinity of the school.  Vendors were invited to provide items for a raffle, with winners announced every 15 minutes.

The challenge East Olympia's PTA is going to have with their bazaar is going to be competition (for vendors) and location (for attendees).  If South Puget Sound CC had held their bazaar, at least two of us would not have been at this event.  With their location off the beaten path, their biggest draw for attendees will be school families and local neighbors.

Homemade for the Holidays, 17th Annual Bazaar

I'd heard about the Homemade for the Holidays annual bazaar at the Thurston County Fairgrounds, but I'd never been to it.  This annual craft fair in Lacey is coordinated by a local resident, Debbie Wakefield, who is herself a crafter.  The fair is really well-publicized, with Debbie sending every vendor flyers and about 5 post cards for their own distribution.  I'm told this year it was bigger even than last year--a bit of a surprise considering the economy--with more vendors and in more building than previous years.

This fair was a two-day event, starting Friday afternoon and going through Saturday.  Friday afternoon was relatively light, and attendees consisted mostly of regulars.  The crafter next to me told me he'd attended for several years, and that it was a good bazaar for developing repeat customers.  In fact, Friday night about the only customers at his booth were repeats.

In terms of other attractions at the event, Debbie makes sure there are food vendors to help encourage attendees to stay around.  This year, I believe Bavarian Wurst, an Olympia company, provided bratwurst and sausages.  I'll have to do a better job next year of checking out the other vendors, but I'm a sucker for a good brat, so that's as far as I made it this year.

This was the first bazaar where I was able to display my newly-made sign, courtesy of Garn Turner, a long-time friend and independent sign maker.  Debbie put me in the Sakolik Building next to Paula's Soap Scentsations and down the way from Liz and Randy Lobe's Against the Grain Creations.  The booths are large and offered plenty of room to showcase my Grampa Bill's BBQ Sauce, my Bill's World Leathercrafts, and my sister-in-law's Flirty Girl products.  All in all, it was a good bazaar, and I'll be back there next year.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Timberline Blazer Bazaar 2008

For the second year in a row, the Timberline Blazer Bazaar fell on a gorgeous fall day, possibly contributing to a second year of lower-than-expected attendance. This bazaar is one of the earliest of the holiday season, and possibly one of the best bargains around for vendors.

Cal Anderson, band director, did a great job organizing the event, despite the challenges of multiple moves during the school's remodel. Timberline High School's new Commons easily accommodated over 40 combined commercial vendors and local artisans. Cal's booths were generous in size (all 10x12 or bigger); he provided a free lunch; and as usual, free coffee and free bottled water were always available. He staffs it every year with band students, who pay very good attention to the vendors and do an excellent job taking care of them with beverages and snacks.

The vendors I spoke with are looking forward to seeing what this bazaar can become when the school's full remodel is complete, we have two gyms, and the new Commons all available. I hope to see you there in 2009.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Grampa Bill's BBQ at Fife Harvest Festival

The Fife Harvest Festival turned out to be a great outdoor festival; well-organized and well-attended (despite the weather). There was musical entertainment all day of some kind. The City of Fife booth gave out coupons to all attendees for a $1 'combo meal' (hot dog, pop, and chips) at the concession stand--the family that runs it normally charges $2.50--free corn, face painting, and popcorn. There was even a fish pond for the kids and free "train" giving rides around Dacca Park.
The only real downside was the weather and the fact many vendors just didn't tough it out. Yes, it was blustery. Yes, it rained. Yes, it was a little chilly at times. This is the Pacific Northwest, and it was the first weekend in October. The City of Fife did a great job providing cover--with walls, even; trying to keep the canopies weighed down; and responding quickly to flapping or moving cover. As a vendor, I committed to being there until 5pm, so stuck it out. With the support the City provided, I couldn't justify leaving earlier.

If you decide to attend in 2009 as either an attendee or vendor, be prepared for the weather and you'll be rewarded with a very fun outdoor festival that's well worth your time.