Longtime Tradition of Farmers and Crafters Day Expected to Bring Thousands to Clarion on Friday
The much anticipated event runs from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 4.
It will include over 350 craft vendors displaying and selling items large and small in downtown Clarion from 2nd to 8th Avenue.
According to Executive Director of the Clarion Chamber of Business and Industry Tracy Becker, the Farmers and Crafters Day tradition goes back to the earliest days of the Autumn Leaf Festival when it was still just a two-day weekend event and the day was known as “Farmers and Merchants Day.”
“That’s one of the things, going back through the history of the festival, that they talked about as one of the earliest events,” Becker noted.
“We’re glad to be able to put on this event and this festival that showcases not only the Clarion area, but also the university that has been with us for 151 years. For students who are thinking about where they want to go for their schooling, it’s great to be able to showcase the camaraderie between the downtown and the university.”
Becker says that this years Farmers and Crafters day will host 366 vendors, of which about 60% are returning vendors, about 5% are local nonprofit organizations, and the remaining 35% are new vendors.
“We do have a lot of new vendors this year.”
One of the challenges for the vendors who do events in our region is making a hard choice between two major events in early October. This coming weekend is also the big Applefest in Franklin, which hosts a large craft show, as well.
“Some vendors are torn about which show to go to. Applefest has a great program up there, so I’m not going to tell someone what choice to make. In the end, it works out for both festivals, and some vendors may even want to start at one and then move on to the other.”
Becker noted that this years event is looking like it will probably be a quite popular, as the weather forecast is calling for warm and sunny weather on Friday.
“I’m thinking we’re probably going to get over 200,000 people,” she said.
Preparations for the big day actually begin at the very beginning of the year, with online registration for Farmers and Crafters Day, as well as for several of the other Autumn Leaf Festival events, going live online on January 2.
According to Becker, the Farmers and Crafters Day registration is usually one of the first to close because it tends to fill up very quickly. One of the things the committee members try to do is to accommodate as many of the vendors requests for preferred locations as they can.
“We do try to accommodate people, but there’s just no guarantee,” Becker said.
Usually the registrations are full by the end of June and the committee begins planning out placement of the vendors in July.
On the day of the big event, while those who plan to attend are still snug in their beds around 12:30 a.m. on Friday, Tracy and a group of committee members and volunteers meet up at the Clarion Chamber of Business and Industry office to begin marking the streets for the vendors, giving them each 12 feet of frontage space and a two-foot walkway between stands.
This year, due to the former chair of the Farmers and Crafters Day committee deciding to retire and step down, and some of the former volunteers also taking a break, Becker noted that the volunteer crew will have some different faces.
“I’ve got somewhat of a new crew. A couple of them have helped in the past, but with the former chair retiring, there were a lot of people that came with her, some family members, that aren’t here this year, and I’m going to miss them. We really enjoyed the work and I’ve know them for many year, so this year is going to be very different.”
Once the streets are marked for the vendors, the volunteers will regroup at the office, usually around 4:30 to 5:00 a.m., and meet with additional volunteers to begin moving the vendors into place.
“It is really just trying to control the chaos,” Becker noted.
“We have them pull in as close to their space as they can, then unload everything onto the sidewalk and move their vehicle to a legal parking spot before setting up.”
Farmers and Crafters Day then officially opens at 8:00 a.m.
Along with the crafters on the street, there is also a Crafter’s Event at the Immaculate Conception Parish Event Center on Main Street beginning at 7:00 a.m.
According to Becker, they sometimes direct people on their Farmers and Crafters Day wait list who are hoping to have a spot open up to the Immaculate Conception event.
“They have a really great indoor craft show and we tell people about it because they have both vendors and food concessions there.”
The ATA Shuttle Bus Service will also be running from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for $1.25 per trip; Clarion University students and riders under age six and over age 65 ride free. Only exact change will be accepted.
Becker also noted that she was able to confirm with PennDOT that they will not be working in the construction zone on State Route 68 between Interstate 80 and downtown Clarion on Friday and Saturday.
“We just want people to come in and enjoy the day,” Becker said.
“And if anyone wants to get involved and be a part of the committee, we’re always looking for more volunteers.”
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