Crafting in the Midwest: Renegade Chicago and Strange Folk St. Louis Accepting Artist Applications

Strange Folk 2008I am currently a Midwesterner. I stand in line for sweet corn every Saturday at the farmer’s market. Every April, I cheer on my students who ride in the Little 500. Heck, John Cougar Mellancamp lives in my town–is that Midwest enough for you?

As an indie crafter, I’m always bummed that the majority of awesome indie fairs–Maker Faire, most of the Bazaar Bizzare locations, three-fourths of the Renegades–choose to operate on the peripheries of the continental U.S. (it’d probably suck even more if I lived in Hawaii, but I’m willing to bet there are compensations to make up for the inconvenience of living in Hawaii).

So I’m always extra stoked when there are good, national-level indie craft fairs that operate right here in the heartland (occasionally known as the “armpit of America”). Here are two good ones, and how to get involved:

If Renegade is the coolest of the big indie craft fairs, then Renegade Chicago is the coolest of the coolest (my criteria for evaluation? It’s the only one I’ve been to, duh). You can traipse up and down, up and down Division St. on a lovely September day, and every single vendor’s booth is more stinkin’ awesome than the last one. The last Renegade I went to, I came away with soap (from two different vendors!), matching crocheted strawberry top hats for my littles, a vinyl wrist cuff, some pinbacks and postcards, some ceramic tiles decoupaged with pages from children’s storybooks, and I don’t even know how much more coolness.

If you want to apply to Renegade, get your game on because they’re super-competitive, and be ready to fork over $310 (you’ll get $300 of it back if you don’t make the cut).

Another awesome place to be in September? St. Louis. Strange Folk, located in an enchanted craft forest just outside of St. Louis, has all the advantages of a big city, a green location (with ample parking), and the pleasant fall weather. While I sold there last year, my partner and our girls petted the llamas, made necklaces and #6 plastic shrinky-dinks, and frolicked in the world’s largest sandbox. Whenever I had a break, booth money burning a hole in my pocket, I headed out to the other vendors and bought rainbow-colored wool roving and yards and yards of excellent quilting fabric.

If you want to apply to Strange Folk, get it done, because applications close on July 6. Take a risk, though, because applications are free!

What’s your favorite indie craft fair?

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Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.


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  1. Strangefolk is awesome! I live in St. Louis and I applied for my third year. My sales were great, the vendors were great, the customers were great and the food was good too. The fact that it is in a beautiful green, tree laden park is nice too.

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