Craft Lake City DIY Festival
You can’t exactly say that the Craft Lake City DIY Festival created the do-it-yourself culture in Salt Lake City, because, after all, the state’s pioneers and forebears have historically been crafty by nature and have had a knack for that of the hand-made. It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg conundrum. The summer festival, however, has certainly been pivotal in creating a modern-day marketplace and collaborative center for DIY artisans and engineers — one that’s vital for several reasons.
The three-day event now welcomes 40,000 attendees who shop for myriad DIY goods. The festival runs the gamut in its offerings, because “craft” is a term that they are trying to broaden to encompass all things handmade. During the festival, you can attend workshops, learn about technological advancements, eat from local vendors, hear live music, and see performance art on two stages, and, of course, shop, shop, shop.
What You’ll Find
Find yourself meandering down rows upon rows of booths with merchants selling everything from antique signs to Olde World bread to hand-sewn scarves. Each year, 35 to 40 percent of the vendors at the festival are new, so there’s always something fresh. A jury goes through the nearly 800 applicants (submitted online) across all categories and selects who will sell and exhibit each year. So what you get is the best of the best of what Utah and the Intermountain West has to offer within the world of artisans, craft foodies, vintage sellers, commercial vendors, and nonprofit organizations.
Whether you are looking to furnish your home or deck yourself out with some fashionable accoutrements, this is the place. Find handmade and upcycled clothing, crocheted goods, lighting displays, furniture, screen-printed designs, handmade body care products, stencil artwork, photography, and jewelry. What’s more, you can meet and greet the DIY artists and pick their brains about processes and aesthetics.
Craft Lake City founder and executive director Angela Brown — also the publisher of Salt Lake Underground aka SLUG, a music and action-sports zine — launched the event eight years ago because of two important reasons: She observed that talented artists were leaving town in troves for more lucrative artistic opportunities in cities like Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash.; they had good reason to, because it was exceedingly difficult to make a living as an artist in the Beehive State.
Brown had visited craft festivals such as The Renegade Craft Fair and Bazaar Bizarre, and she thought that a DIY festival would not only fit well in Utah, but that it would help the local arts thrive. So, she took matters into her own hands.
Now, the festival has blossomed into one of the largest in the state and even hosts workshops and classes year-round. It is an important place for vendors, who are often green to the festival circuit. In this supportive petri dish, they learn valuable skills such as building an inventory, marketing themselves, and customer service. As such, the festival has become a launching pad for artisans to create a sustainable year-round income.
Indeed, all of this knowledge will help you have the feel-goods while shopping, but what’s most important to patrons is obviously the on-site experience — and Craft Lake City offers a stellar one!
Food Trucks, Families and Fiber (Google)
Take a break from the three days of shopping, and enjoy dishes from Utah’s best food trucks. Grab what you like in the way of ethnic eats or sweet treats, and park yourself by one of two stages. There, you'll take in some high-quality art of the musical and performance variety. Music that covers the genre spectrum, modern dance, and other stage performances can be seen on the stages throughout the festival.
Let your kids get their inner crafter out at the children’s area, which hosts make-and-take art projects, a bounce house, a craft-food project, and other interactive activities.
At the Google Fiber STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Building, you’ll learn about the newest in technology from DIY engineers. You’ll meet individuals creating robotics, bicycles, alternative energy ideas, and LED lighting solutions.
So is Craft Lake City honoring its mission “to educate, promote, and inspire local artisans while elevating the creative culture of the Utah arts community through science, technology, and art”? Definitely, yes.
With more than 250 exhibitors showcasing and selling anything and everything DIY there is certainly something for everyone.
The Craft Lake City DIY Festival is held at Gallivan Center (239 Main St., Salt Lake City), on the second weekend in August each year. Festival admission is $5; children 12 and under are free; VIP tickets are $50 and includes admission to the VIP pavilion. For more information about the festival, visit www.CraftLakeCity.com.
Story by Austen Diamond