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San Francisco's Favorite Craft Fair

Petaluma Downtown Craft Mart, November 29th

A new craft mart is coming to Petaluma. We thought it would be interesting to meet the women who have put this latest fair together. Most of them have been vendors at other events. The life of a promoter is new to them. Enjoy meeting Kristine, Nicole, Carrie, Melissa and Elaine:

Craft mart poster for webCan you please tell us about the upcoming Petaluma Downtown Craft Mart and who might be interested in attending. Kristine McFarland: The Petaluma Downtown Craft Mart is the brainchild of five Petaluma crafty ladies who have done our share on the craft fair circuit in San Francisco, Sacramento and various places in the U.S. We all realized that there isn’t one definitive fair in Sonoma County, and really wanted to create a unique event to highlight the wealth of talent we have up here, to create a buzz to showcase such talent and create a crafty culture that has been missing.  Nicole Vasbinder: We also want to create an event that is inclusive of the whole town. Something that will attract all ages and people from all different walks of life. That’s why we have vendors that represent the indie side of the craft community as well as vendors that are a little more traditional. We are also super excited that it’s right next door to TAPS brewpub as there will be a place for the dudes to hang out who otherwise might not come to a craft fair. Ha!  Carrie Caudle: This is a great event for families to attend. There will be a number of adorable gifts for little ones, and kids can find reasonably-priced things to get for their parents, too. I love having an alternative to the mall for family shopping! And any place where hipsters and grandmas can mingle is all right by me.

IMG_7098_405_crpI am sure you are excited about arranging and promoting a fair of your own. How has this process developed? Nicole: It came together pretty organically. After I opened StitchCraft in January 2008 I started meeting all sorts of crafty people in Petaluma. I’m a natural networker and starting talking to people about putting on a craft show in downtown that would get foot traffic and would be centrally located. tnElaine, Melissa, Carrie and Kristine all said that they would want to help plan and that’s how we got together.

What show have you done in the past that you have used as a foundation and inspiration for your own show? Kristine: When I first moved from San Francisco to Petaluma I noticed there wasn’t a great venue for all the talent here, plus I really wanted to meet friends. I created a craft show, which to put it mildly, wasn’t quite what I had hoped, but I was a solo woman, putting on a big event and clearly needed help. All of these women were vendors at my fair and Melissa and I originally discussed ‘bringing it back’ as the idea was there and just needed to be expanded upon.   Nicole: : I have done so many craft shows over the past 6 years including San Francisco Bazaar, Renegade Craft Fair, Felt Club and Stitch Austin and wanted something like that for Petaluma. The DIY movement is exploding and ties in with the slow food movement that is so huge in Sonoma County. Petaluma is a natural for a show like this.   Elaine: Petaluma has a great tradition for being supportive of artists and crafters. What I like especially about this show is the very diverse selection of vendors that we will be hosting. A little bit o’ everything, I like to think.  Melissa: I’ve been very active in running a sustainable development campaign to support our local economy. Promoting the creativity of our area is a key component to that. Petaluma is a town distinguished by it’s creative history and it’s local-vore economy. Petalumans live within 5 miles of all the food, dairy, and beer (Lagunitas) they can dream of! It’s a natural fit for our community to showcase it’s creativity and particularly in such a beautiful and historic venue.  Carrie: We’ve definitely captured the positive, collaborative energy for this show.

It is such a disappointment to see all the “retail” items being sold at craft fairs. any thoughts about this ? Melissa: Retail items have their place in mainstream culture but I fear the homogenization of what’s available to the consumer. Personally, I like things freshened up from time to time and I feel craft fairs allow the opportunity for new ideas and products to reach consumers. Craft fairs are a forum for the maker and the buyer to come together in a shared appreciation of handmade items. When a craft fair ceases to fill that need then it’s time to change the name.

tn-1Seems as if Petaluma is becoming a hub of independent thinking. do you think it is the new home of the D.I.Y movement ? Nicole: I know! It’s a pretty special place. We have so many talented people in Petaluma as well as special events like Whiskerino and Butter & Egg Days. And Sonoma County is home to companies like O’Reilly Media (Craft Zine, Make Zine and Maker Fair) and events like Handcar Regatta. Maybe it is the new Craft Mecca!  Elaine: I’m a little biased in my answer, having moved to Petaluma when I was 5 and basically living here since. The green valleys, the swirling winds and the early fog, just make an artist’s heart leap with joy. Petaluma is positioned in a way that nurtures creativity and I find it very exciting that so many liked minded hearts are finding their way here…  Melissa: We definitely have something going on here and it’s in our blood as a community. We are known for originality in so many areas

Tell us about COTS: Elaine: COTS (Committee on the Shelterless) has long been one of those organizations that is synonymous with helping, caring and giving. There are a lot of people in this town, like throughout the country that have fallen on hard times and just need a helping hand. COTS is that helping hand. From helping low income kids with their homework to providing dishes and other homeware to displaced families, COTS is a cherished part of this community.  Carrie: COTS is there to support members of our community with essential opportunities and care. From temporary housing, to job skills, to nourishment, to sliding-scale counseling services, COTS is a vital component of what makes Petaluma so special. We are thrilled to support this organization through our event!

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