With the gift-giving season just around the corner, holiday shopping is likely underway for all but the most egregious of procrastinators. For unique, handmade and local finds, make sure to stop by the Fat Goose craft fair, returning for its 7th year in the city on November 22nd at Grant Hall.
A group of local artisans and crafters started the fair in 2009 when they felt that there was a dearth of venues in which to share their work. In 2011, they formally created the Fat Goose Craft Collective. Now, the fair is completely volunteer-driven and hosts more than 50 vendors from the area that create a huge range of goods: jewelry, knitwear, photographer, metalwork, candles, and much more. What’s more is that the vendors have to go through a juried selection in order to participate: work must be local, show originality, add to the diversity of the fair, and be of high quality. The fair sends out a call for vendors in August, and receives more and more applications each year. Organizer Marnie McDiarmid says, “This is the most amount of vendors we’ve had ever. We’ve moved to a bigger venue and the show has been getting more and more popular.” Many participants apply year after year. “We get a lot of repeats because it’s a show that’s quite popular with the vendors,” she says. “But we try to keep things fresh by making sure that new vendors are also included.” Certainly, you could check off everyone on your list with one stop at the fair.
This year, McDiarmid has noticed that the fair reflects a much bigger trend towards home-based businesses. For many, working from home provides a number of conveniences: the ability to work while simultaneously parenting; a monetary savings by avoiding studio or storefront rental; and even just the mental health benefits of working in one’s own home. Further, because of online retailers such as Etsy, a brick-and-mortar store is no longer a real necessity to craftspeople. “While we would never not select someone just because they had a storefront,” McDiarmid says, “the majority of our vendors don’t.”
While you’ll find that almost all of these vendors do have their own websites and Etsy shops, the Fat Goose craft fair is a great way to see their work in person, and also to meet the artisans themselves. This year, you’ll see textile artist Hilary Cosgrove, wire artist Maggie Hogan, and wool artist Tracy Olan. “[It’s] such a pleasure to be part of something so well put together with local artists, some I know well and others that may become good friends down the road,” says Olan of the Fat Goose craft fair on her site. “This event always lets me dance a little with fine craft.” Joining Cosgrove, Hogan, and Olan will be many more amazing local craftspeople to inspire your holiday spirit.
The fair will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on November 22nd. To learn more about the vendors or the Fat Goose Craft Collective, visit fatgoosecraftfair.com.