Guest Blog Post: Cleveland and its many craft fairs

The concept of shopping locally for hand made items has always been something Clevelanders can get behind.  I have several (or at least one) memories of my own mom making eucalyptus wreaths and taking us all to a big church hall to run around and meet other women who were selling their wreaths and scarves.  So is it any surprise that I’m drawn to today’s craft fairs, with their wreaths from antique christmas lights and scarves of brightly dyed felt?

Shoppers at Bazaar Bizarre 2010

This past weekend, Dec. 11 and 12, I hit up the Bazaar Bizarre, my annual “Oh, i’ve always wanted a thing just like that!” shopping trip.  The Bazaar Bizarre has been held in Cleveland for six years now, organized by Shannon Okey.  For the past two years, the bazaar has been held at 78th Street Studios, a collection of art studios and galleries and a big empty space.  The neighborhood is starting to pickup on the massive foot traffic that Bazaar Bizarre brings with it, with galleries in the 78th Street Studio and 1300/Third buildings showcasing art and objects.  Bazaar Bizarre is a great place to see our local variations on national trends – looking for interesting food trucks? Den and dim sum and Umami Moto were parked outside, and sold quickly.  What about burlesque and personalized makeup?  What about stiltdancers?  Shannon Okey, busy as usual, was happy to chat with me on Saturday and say how excited she was that the community was really starting to come out and support all the local craft shows being held in the Gordon Square Arts District and Cleveland. 

Michael Hudecek models one of his Forest City Portage bags.


Let me say here a big great job to all the vendors, and a big “well, it was really crowded and we did the best we could do to walk past one another” to all the other shoppers that thronged through the studios to see them.  Some personal favorites were Melissa Venneri-McCabe and Lew McCabe of Whimsical Wonders, creators of spoon and fork magic!; Michael Hudecek of Forest City Portage (and sometimes Melt West), making messenger bags, pouches, belts and wallets out of cordura and the desire to just have a really sweet-ass bag;  Cosette Cornelius-Bates, cosy makes fiber artist, who had the such prettily dyed wool that I had to buy a skein, even though all I can do is the world’s most basic scarf; and Puppycat, a collection of dog and kitty and people treats, where I found the annual christmas present for the kitties (this year, a catnip taco!).  I was excited to meet local Valerie Mayen (Project Runway), there to both sell some really interesting clothing from her shop Yellow Cake, and to talk about the fashion co-operative Buzz & Growl that she is the process of growing.   

Valerie Mayen and Courtney at Bazaar Bizarre 2010

It’s bad writing form to say “I can’t quite describe” but in this case, it is hard to describe all the intriguing items for sale from all the excited and friendly vendors at this year’s Bazaar Bizarre!  It’s always great to go and find something new and really cool (this year, enormous black flower earrings from mandrizzle), and to be part of a great event.

Thankfully, even though Bazaar Bizarre is over, there is still one shopping weekend and several shopping weekdays left in this busy holiday season.  And there are still some local shopping events to help you find that perfect baby onesie that says “My dad made my mom a mix tape and all they got was me.”  (Credit must go to Leigh Kelsey of Rhymes With Tree, who will be at Last Minute Market!)

  • Made in the 216 is an ongoing holiday shop at 2078 W. 25 Street, Cleveland, open until Dec. 24 and organized by Room Service‘s Danielle DeBoe.  Another yearly event, this fair showcases some 50 Cleveland artists.
  • The Last Minute Market & Screw Factory Open Studio will be held this Saturday, Dec. 18 at 13000 Athens Avenue, Lakewood.  This market will host 85 vendors from around the Midwest, as well as showcasing the visiting and resident artists of the Screw Factory.  There is always a blank wall somewhere – shouldn’t you look for some amazing, local paintings or photograph to fill it up?
  • The Pop Up Gift Shop, currently going on at Trinity Commons, 2242 Euclid, Cleveland, is open Thursday and Friday, 10-7 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 10-5 pm.  If you’re going to “consume, consume locally,” says one of the artists, which encompasses the feeling behind handmade local gifts that emphasize their reused/recycled quality.  A clock made out of a motherboard?  Mosaics from flooring samples?  Check!

 I know I’m (again!) not fully sharing the many local options available to us here in Cleveland, and that’s because we’re totally spoiled for choice.  More ideas and suggestions are available from Thomas Mulready Cool Cleveland’s Holiday Gift Guide, or by checking various local print publications.  As Cool Cleveland says, it’ll be a shopping experience that doesn’t suck.  Which is true!  Absolutely none of these events will suck.  In fact, all of them will be amazing and interesting, and you’ll be able to witness people creating and sharing and selling their art.  And you’ll be a part of it!  Provided you buy something, which I highly suggest you do.  

Melissa and Lew McCabe at Bazaar Bizarre

About the Guest Author: Kate Galo
Long long ago, Kate Galo was a professional blogger at the now-defunct  Her writing style has vastly improved over the years, and she’s excited to sharing her thoughts about this city with the loyal readers at Clue Into Cleveland!

6 thoughts on “Guest Blog Post: Cleveland and its many craft fairs

  1. Valerie

    I KNOW it was SO crowded Saturday. Sunday there was a little more room to get around. It was a super fun show (Try being an artist at it sometime—talk about tempted to empty out the pocket book! Though, I managed to get plenty of holiday shopping done)
    Thanks for stopping in!

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  3. Melissa Venneri-McCabe

    Hey ladies!
    I was just doing some web surfing and I came across your blog from last month. Thanks for the awesome coverage, I’m glad you enjoyed our stuff!
    We hope to see you again in the CLE area!!
    Whimsical Wonders

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