In its fifth year, Crafty Feast has hit its stride. The vendors get it, the shoppers get it and Columbia gets it.
On Sunday, 125 vendors will descend on the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center from noon to 6 p.m., coming from four different states to reach thousands of shoppers who appreciate the handmade, stylish and totally original goods they find at the juried craft fair, the only one of its kind in the area.
Founder and organizer Debi Schadel has seen Crafty Feast evolve since her first event at the Eau Claire Ribs and Renaissance Festival in 2009. The list of vendors has expanded. This year, 266 vendors applied for 125 spots. Among those, 60 are new to the fair.
“At first, I knew almost all of the vendors,” Schadel says. “The growth of Crafty Feast means I have less of a connection to the vendors, but they sell more, so I think they’re OK with that.”
She laughs. Crafty Feast — now less of a “Debi” event and more of a city event — is still close to her heart.
After a rainstorm in 2011 took out eight vendor tents, Schadel started looking for indoor venues. In April of 2012, Crafty Feast was held at the Convention Center for the first time, where it remains. Schadel says the fair maintains its indie edge, even in a more conventional environment.
Crafty Feast was a Saturday event in years past, but, Schadel says, “Columbia is ready to support something like this on a Sunday.”
Shoppers, some of whom travel in groups from other cities, will find prices ranging from a few dollars to around $150, and there are choices in all price ranges. They can enjoy music from DJ Scott Padgett, Budweiser craft beers and food from the snack bar, including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options, and crafting tables for adults and children.
Amanda Ladymon of Ladybug Art Studios hosts a booth with six tables where kids can create their own crafts. New this year, Shanika Pichey of Gather & Craft will also host a DIY area, offering space for people to stamp wrapping paper and make yarn poms.
“Crafty Feast has been successful in providing exposure to independent artists and makers to a larger crowd,” Pichey says. “With Gather & Craft, I want to provide a market for the person that wants to become the maker.”
Crafty Feast is enjoyable for shoppers, but Schadel strives to make it a great experience for vendors, too. She makes sure they feel welcome, sending out regular communication, including information on local hotels and checklists about what they need, like a city vendor license and tables. Schadel keeps the participation fee as low as possible to allow non-professionals to participate.
For this year’s after party, Crafty Feast attendees will be encouraged to attend the Jam Room Christmas Party at the Art Bar on Sunday evening. The party will include an auction featuring pieces donated by local artists, and money raised will support local artist Thomas Crouch, the victim of a hit-and-run accident this year that left him unable to work.
Crafty Feast is bigger and better this year, but its indie spirit remains. Vendors and shoppers alike will appreciate the quality of the work and the craft-friendly atmosphere.
The event is from noon until 6 p.m. Sunday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Free parking is available in the lot adjacent to the building. Admission is $2; kids under the age of 10 are admitted free. Visit craftyfeast.com for more information.
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