A local Abilene promotion company will host the annual Spring Craft Fair to promote and celebrate local artists and businesses.
Head of the event, Jen Harmel, is an ACU graduate who previously participated in student-led craft fairs and established JamFest.
“When you graduate college here in Abilene, there’s not a lot of opportunities where that stuff is happening,” Harmel said. “So I wanted to create that outlet as a full time working mom.”
The event will begin at 10 a.m. April 18 at The Mill, a local downtown event center, and will last all day.
“You can expect live music the whole time, food trucks and just an atmosphere of festivity – the kind of stuff that you would, hopefully, see on the streets any given day in a city like Austin or in Oregon,” Harmel said. “Not on that same grand scale, but on that feeling of community and creativity.”
Each year, the craft fair has business partnerships for locally owned food and drink places, but the vendors are more difficult to choose.
“It attracts people like stay-at-home-moms who have side hobbies; a lot of people who have full-time jobs and don’t have a time to have a store front for what they make,” Harmel said.
This is important to the integrity of the brand, she said. The fair seeks to stay away from multi-level marketing campaigns and franchises.
“If we’re calling these craft fairs, we really don’t want to yes to things that aren’t hand-crafted and handmade,” Harmel said. “However, because we’re in Abilene, we can’t be too picky and choosy.”
This year, the event will feature local vendors and their art, crafts and other various products, though the focus of the event is really on building community and gathering people together to have fun, Harmel said.
Maggie Marshall, senior English major from Tulsa, Oklahoma, said she thinks the fair is cool because of the local people and it’s handmade items.
“I make handmade things, too, and the fair sounds like a really good opportunity for people like me to show off their stuff,” she said.
The event has been at the Cloister’s Courtyard three times, but this year, The Mill approached Harmel to have the event at their business.
Harmel said the growth of the Spring Craft Fair is slow and steady but growing solidly, and The Mill approaching them for the Spring Craft Fair is indicative of that.
The live music lineup includes 11 local musicians. Among them are Andrew Holmes, who is now on tour and has become popular outside of Abilene, and ACU student Jake Rosser, sophomore multimedia major from Abilene.
“This is a really valuable thing to be a part of, especially in Abilene,” Harmel said.