A Crafty Road Trip

This past weekend, I did the unthinkable: I traveled to a craft show that was out of town that I was not vending at!

And then I drove five more hours to do it all over again.

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Traveling and crafts are not a new concept to me. Diving into the handmade world almost a decade ago, I dreamed big and applied primarily to shows outside of Columbus. The craft gods decided in my favor and granted me access to shows in Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh, to name just a few.

But to travel to a show out of town just to shop at a show was something I have never had the time for. This year, thanks to the business of settling into a new house, demands of young kids and the responsibility of running my own craft fair, I forgot to apply to all my favorite craft events.

Which meant I had the weekend of Thanksgiving free! It also happened that my Midwest Craft Con co-organizers Brit and Grace had their BIG shows on the same weekend. Since my own craft fair, Craftin’ Outlaws, was so busy, I walked home empty-handed despite intentions of holiday shopping and I hardly found a moment to say hello to exhibitors and crafty friends. With the promise of a hotel with a pool and hot tub for my kids, my husband and I packed our bags for a fun, impromptu craft tour of Ohio.

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We started our craft adventure off in Cincinnati. Grace and her business partner Chris have been running Crafty Supermarket since 2009. Their holiday show is held in the Cincinnati Music Hall‘s beautiful ballroom, which housed 90 amazing vendors. I have had the pleasure of exhibiting at many of their spring and holiday shows, and Cincinnati folks LOVE their Crafty Supermarket. It’s always been one of my better shows, and I was so excited to attend as a shopper. This year Crafty Supermarket had over 6,500 people in attendance. My family of four navigated the crowds trying to say hi to as many exhibitors as we could.

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We did not get to spend as much time at Crafty Supermarket as I would have liked. Sadly, our time frame only permitted us to come when the show first opened, and the kids were not feeling the crowds. They also did not fail to remind me that the hotel in Akron had a hot tub. So off we went, but not without some gifts and goodies for myself. If you can remember: APPLY TO CRAFTY SUPERMARKET! The next show is May 7, and applications will be posted in January. I, for one, have already added it to my 2016 calendar. It’s an amazing show and I am kicking myself for forgetting to apply.

Once we settled into Akron and let the kids burn off car energy in the pool, we found ourselves getting a guided tour of Crafty Mart by Brit.

Crafty Mart is now in its seventh year and is a two-day show held at three locations. The three venues are within walking distance of one another: Summit Space, The Akron Art Museum and Musica.

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I’ve never been a vendor at Crafty Mart, so while I can’t speak to the vending experience, the shopping experience was unlike any craft fair I had been to. Each venue provided a new experience and a new setting to enjoy crafty shopping. Summit Station, which houses artist studios, was inspiring, while shopping the museum made for a modern backdrop, and Musica housed crafts in every nook and cranny. Musica is a bar and music venue that hosted the first Crafty Mart. It reminded me a great deal of where we housed the first Craftin’ Outlaws, so it felt very near and dear to my heart.

My organizing brain is overwhelmed with ideas and inspiration. The maker side of me was reminded just how much I miss being behind a table, selling my wares and waving at friends across the aisle. Most importantly, I am reminded why we are making Midwest Craft Con happen: to allow ourselves as creatives and makers to be inspired once again. To regroup and take in the experiences that bind us all together.

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Remember that tickets for Midwest Craft Con are on sale now and make great presents! Get your tickets now and join creative business people from all across the Midwest in February!

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