Parkland opens their first stand at Made Fest
Made Fest 2017 played host to numerous local and out-of-town merchants with various homemade arts and crafts over the weekend. Included was the first booth officially run by Parkland College.
Items for sale varied significantly, from pieces of art to handmade clothing. One thing they all had in common was their hand-made, small-batch nature.
Dozens of tent-like booths were packed into the open lots and closed off streets of downtown Champaign, usually within a brief walk of the music stages. The live music playing was often in earshot as patrons browsed through the stalls.
The vendors operating the booths came from locales as varied as the products on offer, with one merchant travelling over nine hours from Kansas. The operators of Parkland’s first official stand had a much shorter drive, however.
Daniel Quinn, who was found manning Parkland’s stand on Saturday night, is a returning adult education student in art and design. Although Quinn says he has only returned to classes at Parkland since last summer, he says he has been working on sculpture and art for about 15 years.
“It’s a nice group of people here because there’s some adult students who take the class for fun and self-enrichment, so they have some really cool stuff and then there’s some student work that’s [from] younger students that got to put stuff in. Everyone just works together and it’s a nice mix,” Quinn said.
This year is the first time that Parkland has had an official booth in operation at Made Fest.
Quinn says he estimates the total number of pieces on sale at the booth numbered well over 200.
“There is also stuff from the gallery that’s been donated,” Quinn said “so all that money goes right back to the gallery.”
Pieces available included pieces of art from a number of Parkland’s art-oriented classes including jewelry from metals, ceramics, paintings, and even scarves.
Quinn said business was off to a good start.
“I think we’re about on par with everyone else here,” Quinn said. “It’s the first time that Parkland’s been a part of this so it’s been a learning experience for everyone. I think we’re doing pretty good as far as first timers go.”
Quinn says he hopes Parkland will return next year.
Isaac Keppler, who was at another booth selling metal tins and metal prints with his own photorealistic illustrations of wildlife on them, is new not only to Made Fest but the business aspect of art in general, although he says he’s been doing artwork, the foundation of his products, “basically forever.”
“I’m really new at this. This is, like less than a year [or] six months since I’ve started. I do all the art by hand and I print everything by hand,” Keppler said.
Keppler says a friend originally suggested the event to him.
“She suggested the Made Fest as a good show to check out and I applied and got in so it is really cool to be here,” Keppler said. “I’ve had I good time. I came here from Lawrence, Kansas. Drove here all day yesterday and then got here. It’s supposed to be seven hours. It took me like nine because of traffic.”
Despite the long drive, Keppler believes he will make the return trip next year.
For other merchants, like Shamus McClain, Made Fest has become a well-known event. McClain’s business, Real Soaps, has been appearing at the fest the past four years since it began.
Real Soaps calls its products “all natural, hand-made, with no synthetic ingredients.” In addition to selling merchandise at Made Fest, McClain also has several retailers in the Chicagoland area carrying his products. Like Keppler, McClain had to drive a significant distance to attend the event.
Made Fest is part of the Pygmalion Festival, which has taken place in the streets and among the businesses of downtown Champaign for 13 years. Pygmalion is an annual event focused around music, but also features technology expos, talks by renowned scholars, writers, and thinkers, and food from local businesses. 2017’s festival began on Sept. 20 and ran until Sept. 24.