Strange Folk Festival 2008

Besides filling the role of fearless leader here at CAGW, I’m the “strange girl in charge” of Strange Folk, an indie arts and craft show right across the river from St. Louis, MO. This will be our 3rd year, and there’s lots of great new shtuff in store. For starters, we’ve extended the event to two days: September 27th and 28th, 2008.

Vendor applications are now being accepted on our website thru July 6th. Last year we hosted 100 vendors from across the country, and will be accepting 120 for this year’s event. I’m giving Crafting a Green World the inside scoop, because we are aiming to make Strange Folk eco-friendly as well.

The great thing about promoting indie craft shows is that they draw a huge following online. Many have been very successful at tapping into their target audience through MySpace, Facebook, or online ads. This cuts out a huge chunk of advertising expenses, which makes it possible to charge pretty reasonable fees to the vendors. At least, this has been my experience. However, marketing efforts wouldn’t seem complete without painting the town with posters and flyers. Not to mention, who doesn’t love shwag? Last year, as an incentive for people to start opening their wallets right off the bat, we gave out goodie bags to the first 100 people who showed us a vendor purchase at our info booth (they were gone in 15 minutes). We also sold the bags separately. They were made of cotton and contracted through a local printer. Then there’s decorations, print ads, paperwork, and over 5,000 attendees consuming everything from bottled water to BBQ…many of whom have driven 20 miles or more to get there.

Strange Folk has a lot of positive effects on my community, but our environmental footprint is Sasquatch sized. Other events, such as the Green Festival in Chicago, and even the 2008 Democratic National Convention are doing everything they can to go green, but it’s not perfect. Resources are limited, and I’m on a tight budget to begin with. Even if I have posters printed on recycled paper with soy based inks, toxic chemicals were still used to make the paper. It was still made of trees and probably can’t be recycled again.

It’s it’s misleading to make eco-friendliness a gimmick these days. Very few things are truly green if you look at their entire life cycle. If people keep humming along thinking that reducing our environmental impact is going to solve everything then we are just prolonging the inevitable.

Even if I put up biodegradable balloons and give out bags made from recycled plastic bottles, maybe the only claim to be made is: it isn’t enough, but we did our best with what’s available.

I’ll keep you posted on all the strange festivities as the big weekend approaches. In the meantime, If anyone can point me in the direction of eco-conscious promo suppliers, or has tips on how to reduce our footprint otherwise, please leave comments!

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