If you would have told us at our (February) 2020 10th Annual Unglued: Craft Fest that in early 2021 we’d be hosting the 11th Fest in a super spread out, half-the-vendors, face masked, sanitizing pandemic world we would have dropped our hot glue guns right into our naive early-2020 morning coffees in shock and awe. But now we are here for it! And look at how beautiful it turned out thanks to West Acres Mall pivoting right with us to make the 11th Fest one for the (sanitized) books! (And Fest photographer M. Schleif Photography!).
Story time: around the end of pandemic summer 2020 we started thinking about said Annual Craft Fest and reached out to our favorite Plains Art Museum that has hosted the Fest the past 9 years. We agreed that we couldn’t picture a situation any time soon (including early 2021) that we could host a full blown Fest in-person, but would find ways to either do it fully virtually or still collaborate for sure on virtual workshops. THEN we remembered having our Holiday Pop Up Shop kiosk at West Acres back in 2016 and thought just maybe we could look at doing this event at a big beautiful space that allowed for a socially distanced, spread out (masked) Fest depending on pandemic situations! And they were here for it!
So 2 weeks ago on March 12-13, 2021 the 11th Annual Unglued: Craft Fest took place with 45 vendors at West Acres Mall, a huge pile of all-virtual workshops and demos, and a full Virtual Fest day with 55 makers on March 14!
Attendees were greeted in the Food Court by our adorable info booth thanks to Folkways, where we had the most colorful Fest bags ever screenprinted by Amanda Heidt of the Plains Art Museum Hannaher’s Print Studio. This year the “goody bag” style tote that attendees could purchase included a bunch of Fest-specific swag. Then grab a map and get to shopping this year’s crazy talented Fest makers and artists (all with free admission all weekend!).
And since we are indeed still in a Covid-world attendees and vendors were required to wear masks, social distance from others not in their “pod,” sanitize at booths while shopping, and ultimately do their shopping of Fest makers and then head home to experience all the virtual crafty fun!
Our makers were spread out throughout 4 main mall hallways with plenty of space between each and showcased their handcrafted wares Friday evening and Saturday all day! It had been a looooong time since most of them had been able to sell in-person and they were absolutely blown away by the support received by all of you throughout the weekend!
Friday evening had a fun party vibe thanks to DJ AP spinning from the cactus garden in Buffalo Court and got pumped through the mall sound system!
And Saturday we had the sweet tunes of local musicians Hot Lunch in the Aquarium Court over…lunch, of course!
Booths represented crazy talent and creativity to be discovered by attendees all weekend. Every year we are just so impressed by what is showcased and for attendees to shop their crafty hearts out. This year brought about makers who started their business during Covid while quarantining to makers who had really grown into all kinds of new products while stuck at home!
Drag Queen Summer Fun was hanging out at Hallmark during the Fest and also featured one of her handmade ribbon blazers created out of upcycled ribbons from Hallmark’s decor stash!!
And total bonus: The Arts Partnership hosts artist studios near the Best Buy end of the mall called Aptitude (or APT)! So over 15 more artists showcased their work in this creative space and led virtual demos during our Fest schedule, too!
The 2 days at West Acres were all we could ask for and MORE to connect you (as carefully as possible!) to makers and artists in our community and a bit beyond as we geared up for a Virtual Fest day, too, on Sunday!
Each year we also host a booth contest with vendors to encourage creating a booth display that uniquely displays their products, vibe, and brand! Birch Barn was our Best in Show winner!
Beautabode was a Crazy Awesome Booth Display winner! (ie. Kick Ass Booth Display)!
And The Plant Supply was a Crazy Awesome (Kick Ass!) Booth Display winner!
It was by far one of the most successful vendor sales days we’ve ever seen thanks to YOU coming out to (carefully) shop and support local and regional makers and make your own lives more creative!
And then we wanted to find ways to keep you connected if you weren’t comfortable or able to join in the in-person Fest days (or once you were home from all your shopping!). So we hosted “Unglued Live(!)” on our Facebook page and Youtube channel to give you Fest updates all weekend and special reports from our crew McKaila throughout West Acres or morning mall walking stretches 😉
And it was your time to shine at home and join us all weekend for virtual workshops, demos, and studio tours with our fully loaded Fest schedule of crafty fun!
Thanks to our incredibly talented instructors and local organizations we had a wide variety of ways to get crafty and creative from home! Supply lists were available to source on your own – and a few had supply kits you could purchase (and some that were even heavily discounted or free thanks to our workshops sponsors!).
Definitely some cocktail mixology a couple times with Andrea Anderson and Amanda Butler throughout the weekend because we love us some handcrafted drinks (and mocktails!).
And Baker Garden & Gift led a Vintage Container Plant-a-long!
And Milk Made taught a Mini Cheese & Charcuterie Platter Class where attendees had the option to purchase their amazingly delicious goods!
Other (virtual) workshops included Cross Stitch Basics with Kristina, Barn Quilts with Crooked Lane Farm, Affirmation Card Decks with Artist Nichole Rae, Origami Paper Garland & Bookbinding with the Plains Art Museum, Kid’s Cookie Decorating with Kristina, and How to Gold Leaf Anything with our crew! Plus demos with SRJ Ceramics, Brownbird Handmade, Fermie Studios, It’s Lovely Here, and a studio tour and sneak peek for the Virtual Fest with Catie Miller. You can still find most of the videos on our Youtube Channel to create with for now!
Sunday morning our Virtual Fest kicked off where attendees could all shop from their couch (in sweatpants, hopefully) over 55 makers!
We are just totally overwhelmed and grateful for everyone who made this weekend possible and so wildly successful for makers! Thank you for coming out to West Acres with your mask and 2020 social distancing skills ready to go to shop carefully. Thank you for being excited to discover new makers and find your favorites through the mall halls and online! Thank you for getting creative with us online! Thank you to our makers for taking the time to create and share their crazy talents with the world. Thank you to our instructors, demo-ers, and studio tour artists for taking the time to go virtual and work through tech issues to get you new crafty skills in your life. Thank you to our incredible crew and volunteers who took on a tricky world to figure out and keep things vibin’ and fun for everyone!
And enormous thank you to West Acres for creating a beautiful space that has always supported local art and creativity and with crazy fun installations, ideas, and working through all the logistics of hosting this event in 2021 together!!
And to the rest of our sponsors, too, for being a part of the weekend magic:
Looking forward 2022 and maybe some real high fives by then.
Keep in touch with our 2021 Fest vendors HERE!