I remember participating in the first Makers Fair in the fall of 2010.
I had never sold any of my crafts before, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was extremely nervous and afraid that nobody would buy anything. I’m a big up-cycler and luckily most of my items were unique. I did very well.
Not only did I make money that first time, but I also was exposed to so many of the amazing talents that we have in our community. I have been to a lot of “craft” fairs, but nothing compared to what I experienced at the first Makers Fair. A lot of the items for sale weren’t “crafts”. They were art. And the vendors were true artists. I had never been around so many bright and creative people at one time. The entire experience was amazing!
The first year took place on two consecutive Saturdays and it was supposed to be an annual event. The fair was so much more successful than I think anyone thought it would be, and people didn’t want to wait another year. Luckily, TACA (the Texas Avenue Community Association) decided to have the next one in the spring of 2011.
I couldn’t wait!
The spring 2011 event was bigger. There were more vendor,s and word had gotten out about how amazing it was, so there were more people in attendance. I was excited about the growth. We still had great artists, but now we had even more of them.
Each Makers Fair continued to grow. It outgrew the covered area it had always been in and they had to set up tents. At this point, I started noticing vendors coming in that you would find at the regular “craft” fairs. They weren’t unique. Nothing they had to offer was new.
Every fair since then has had more and more of these types of vendors. We were moving away from the original feel of Makers Fair. It was quickly becoming “your Mamma’s craft fair”. It was very disheartening for me. But I continued my support, even though my sales and those of my friends were dwindling with each one.
This year has been my biggest disappointment.
There were over 300 vendors and there were many of them that shouldn’t be allowed access to a glue gun. I was appalled at the amount of low quality items that were for sale this year. This was the Texas Avenue Maker’s Fair, not the Bee Gum Festival! I don’t think I would have been surprised to see popsicle houses and macaroni necklaces. I feel like it is headed that way unless they make some serious changes.
The truly talented and creative artists are being overshadowed by the ordinary, instead of shining like they are meant to. We finally had a way to showcase some of our local talent, but I don’t know how much longer the original makers will hang in there. Several have already dropped out. I know that this was my last one.
Instead of continuing participation, I have decided that it is now my dream to have a shop of my own. One selling crafted art by our amazing creative community. Selling items made with blood, sweat, tears, and heart, it will be everything that the Makers Fair originally was, but has sadly lost along the way.
Raydra Hall is a local artist, activist, and mother who proudly sponsors a variety of community organizations around Shreveport.
In addition to the work that she has promoted through participation in the Makers Fair, she has also proudly co-directed a short film for the 2012 Christmas Under the Ground project and has also dipped her fingers into other documentary work regarding some of Shreveport’s social history.
This is the first piece she has published with Henry Harbor.