Booths are festival crowd pleasers
For many people, it's the 300-plus craft booths that bring them to the Maple Leaf Festival every year.
Many of the craft makers and artists have been coming to Baldwin City for years, while new faces dot the booths every year, as well. Sandy Cardens is co-chair of the booth committee which always tries to make people happy and make everything go as smoothly as possible.
"The booth committee has about eight members this year and we've been doing our best to place vendors where they would like to be and get all the paper work done accurately so Saturday morning goes smoothly," said Cardens.
For the most part, the booth set up will be about the same.
"Essentially, the booths will be in about the same spots as they were last year, but we did move the big Army rock climbing wall down to Eighth Street just north of Dearborn where they may be able to place it a little easier," she said. "The crafts seem to be a great mix this year and with some very good craftsmanship.
"We've noticed that hand-made jewelry is quite popular this year, so people should be able to find almost anything they could want in that line by some very talented crafters," said Cardens. "We have several more photographers, potters and other visual artists, some hand-crafted furniture that should be pretty impressive and several new to the festival crafters and artists."
Annie France, another committee member, notes the jewelry trend, too, and how it shows how the festival changes.
"Crafts and fine arts are offered by those following trends, coming up with new ideas," said France. "This is fed, ultimately, by those who are purchasing. For instance, jewelry is on the rise. We've had more jewelry booths apply for the festival than ever before.
"There are probably other areas that are declining -- this is all due to what the market is demanding and trends in the arts and crafts industry," she said. "It's fascinating to see it apply to our festival."
France also thinks improvements made to the festival, including the booths, make the festival more successful every year.
"I know since I've been involved in the Maple Leaf Festival committee, the booths have risen in number as well as how many have come each year," she said. "We've become more formal -- with signage, better maps, Internet access. The booth committee indicated that vendors really appreciate the access through e-mail. It's quick and less expensive than postage."
Diane Wagner, vice chairman of the Maple Leaf Committee, notes a small change with the booths this year.
"We will have a few more craft booths this year running all the way down Eighth Street that will help connect the Business and Professional Women's group of crafters with downtown," said Wagner.