As I find myself completely exhausted from last two weekends of community events, I can’t help but be filled with a little bit of hometown pride, inspiration, and humility. Two weekends ago started with Friday night when I headed up to Park City for the Kimball Arts Festival. I had never been to this event before and was just excited to be up in the mountains in cooler temperatures. Saturday I spent the morning at the Salt Lake Farmers Market and then I made my way over to Craft Lake City and spent 7 hours wandering. Yes, you read that correctly, 7 hours. Sunday I assisted my friend Miss Harry-It Winston host her tupperware party at the Urban Flea Market in downtown Salt Lake, and then I headed back to Craft Lake City for the last few hours of the event.
I was really honored when Craft Lake City chose me to be one of 20 people to “blog” and participate in social media over the weekend. It isn’t really something that I take lightly and I am sure they didn’t realize I would blow up their hashtags with all my finds. It was 2 years since the last time I went to Craft Lake City and I don’t remember much, but apparently this time was enough to keep me busy for 7 hours one day and 3 the next, let’s be honest… I just really love to talk to people in our community. Something I love about Craft Lake City is that they hone in on their social media year round and provide workshops and ideas to the community.
As I made my way through each area I could tell that CLC had tried to categorize the best they could according to vendor type. I get what was trying to happen, but I felt at times it was disjointed. It was also hard to speak to vendors over by the stage when bands were on because it was just so loud. Maybe that area would be best for food vendors where there isn’t a long conversation happening? The Craft Lake City crowd was an interesting crowd to watch. I didn’t personally feel from observing that there was a lot of purchasing going on. I felt the crowd was just there to be there.
Another observation I would make on this festival after speaking to several different vendors would be the mis-branding of the event. “DIY” is a term that eludes to interaction and doing. We are in a media age where Pinterest, HGTV, And DIY network have shown people how to do and when they see the term “DIY” they expect to be doing. I understand the vendors have done it themselves which is where the idea comes from, but a visitor from out of town or someone who hadn’t been to this event before would be completely misguided and frankly mad that they had to pay for an event that wasn’t “DIY.” And the term on the marketing was written so much bigger, it makes you wonder what happened to “Craft Lake City?” Which leads me to my next concern. Is there a reason it is a charged event all of a sudden? When I came two years ago it was a festival that could brag it was the only arts festival in Utah that didn’t charge. There should be pride in that and I am not sure why it had to change.
I took absolute pride in being at this event because these are OUR artists. Utah’s creative minds who are putting themselves out there in hopes to make a name or a living for themselves. That is what makes this festival so unique. Kimball is cool and so is the Utah Arts Festival, but those events have artists from all over the US. Craft Lake City is strictly our people and should be marketed as such. We should be there to support them!
This year I am under the impression there were over 200, maybe even upwards of 300 vendors. I would say to that, maybe it was too much and there should be a limit on vendors. Yes, it is nice to pack as much talent into one space, but it is also inundating especially to a generation that is constantly on the move looking for the next thing. If there were less vendors perhaps people would take time to really enjoy what is there. There have also been a lot of vendors, from speaking to them, that have supported the festival upwards of 5+ years. That is amazing that these people believe in this festival as vendors and as a safe place for their work in their own community, but they sounded very disheartened this year at a lack of sales and interest. Again, from my observing, that could be because of packing in as many vendors as possible.
I didn’t get a chance to really hear many bands, Folk Hogan was pretty much amazing and might be one of the most fun bands in Utah! The only question I had with the performance art was, where were the local comedians? Another thought I had was having maybe a little more variety in food offerings. How great there were people like C&C candies with their amazing licorice, or the Argentina Best empanada’s with the Otai’s (yes, I had like 4 or 5, don’t judge), but the other food area seemed very … lacking. I know Utah has amazing food trucks and they should be represented!
If anyone took a moment to really soak in each aisle, to take a look at the sponsors, to eat a little bit of each bit of food, they would realize how blessed we are as a community to have so many creative minds. We are blessed and I hope that the people who put on Craft Lake City see that and protect these creatives. They are what make our community thrive and shouldn’t be taken advantage of whether they are a small specialty foods shop, a creator of oddities, or a re-purposer of paintings or beer labels. They all are why Craft Lake started.
I look forward to going again next year to see who will be there, what food is “in,” and how our community has progressed in a year.