June 08, 2013

June Jaunt and the Farmers Market

June Jaunt and the Farmers Market | Artisan Soaps
Are you a Farmer's Market fan? Do you enjoy going to craft fairs and holiday bazaars? As a customer, I have enjoyed these events for a long time. Now I have the experience of being a vendor and while there is more work involved in being a vendor, there is a universal human element at these events that makes it enjoyable no matter what side of the table you are on.

This point became especially clear to me this week as I participated in a couple of local events. First, I shared some booth space with Heartland Farm (run by the Dominican Sisters of Peace) as part of the K-96 June Jaunt festival in central Kansas. This morning, I put out my own table at the Great Bend Farmers Market. 

I love the friendly, helpful spirit at these sorts of events, and that is especially apparent among vendors. At the June Jaunt Festival and at the Great Bend Farmers Market, vendors have jumped to offer to help one another with putting up tents, sharing space, showing the ropes, and so on. That's nice!

It is clear that adaptability is pretty important at these events, especially in Kansas. For example, it seems to be pretty important to make your stand/booth wind-friendly. At the June Jaunt, even with sides on our tent, a good gust of wind knocked over a full shelf of items (fortunately not my soap!). This morning at the farmers market, stories were told about tents blowing away; it's common practice, I understand, to weigh down the tent AND tie it to the vehicle! Today was no exception as a gusty wind accompanies a cold front that is trying to push its way through.

Soapmakers often give advice about setting up a colorful, attractive stand with products presented at various levels, and particularly at eye level. My collapsible shelves are wonderful for that! But today, I finally took my shelves down and put my soap buckets directly on the table. Presentation IS important, but not at the risk of losing several bars of soap if the entire stand blows over!

Human connection is what makes these events special on both sides of the table. I have really enjoyed sharing my soap with others and I love it when they enjoy the soaps and scents as much as I do. My own soapmaking journey started with a simple appreciation of handcrafted soap, and that was before I knew anything about how much better it is for your skin than some of the commercial soap alternatives. Since then, I enjoy making it, and I am finding that it is easy and fun to share and talk about it with others.

For many vendors, there's more than meets the eye at a farmer's market stand or craft booth. There's only so much they can bring and many vendors have a much larger operation or shop on their farm, or even in their home that may be worth checking out. Personally, I'm finding that I am going to need a bigger vehicle if I do anything much bigger than my small farmer market stand. I CAN fit an impressive number of tables, shelves, and soap in my little car! But there is still a limit to what I can bring and display. 

If you are looking for an inexpensive life-giving activity and a way to connect with humanity, take some time to visit your local farmer's market or the next holiday bazaar. The spirit and human connection will be good for your soul, and you never know what else you might discover.