MILTON — The idea for Milton’s first annual Craft Hop was born around a backyard campfire.
After the cancellation of Milton’s popular craft shows due to COVID-19, life-long resident Jenna Powell wondered if there was a creative and safe way for local crafters to still showcase their work.
“We were just hanging around a campfire,” she said. “We do crafts and there's been no craft shows. I was like, you know, I wish we could do something kind of like a garage sale where people set up at their house and people just drive around to their house.”
What she came up with was a “craft hop” — which like a garage sale, will take place outdoors on front lawns and in driveways. Shoppers will travel from one vendor to the next in their personal car.
The Hop is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 24. Over 80 vendors are participating.
“I started this on a whim,” she said. “I just thought it would be 10 or 12 people and it’s grown substantially.”
Shoppers will find a plethora of products, ranging from wreaths and fall centerpieces to jewelry, photography and wood work. Find handmade baby doll clothing, knit and crocheted items, as well as bounties of homemade dog treats and desserts.
With most craft fairs in Vermont cancelled this year, Powell said she knows it's been challenging for many crafters and artists to sell their work.
The 43rd Annual Milton Pre-Christmas Craft Show, which usually takes place in mid-November, was cancelled this summer due to health and safety concerns.
“After much, much consideration and due to the ongoing pandemic and continued uncertainty in how we would safely and successfully run this year's show, we are canceling the 2020 Milton Pre-Christmas Craft Show,” an Aug. 7 Facebook post stated.
In addition, taking a drive out to a craft fair is a tradition many Vermonters, especially women, are currently missing.
“Craft fairs really are a thing here in Vermont,” Powell said. “Especially with deer season starting soon, it’s usually a lot of women out shopping. Friends get together and go for a ride.”
Powell started planning the event at the end of August. She started a Facebook page and brought the idea up to friends and fellow crafters. Quickly, news spread and Powell said she’s gotten dozens and dozens of messages from interested participants.
“The last six to seven weeks have been crazy,” she said. “I’ve been very busy organizing this and trying to work.
Powell is marketing the event solely through Facebook and word of mouth. While there is no fee for vendors to participate, she said next year she might ask for donations in order to purchase signs and other supplies.
Given the interest and demand for this year’s hop, Powell thinks it could become an annual event. If so, she’d like to use it as an opportunity to showcase more of Milton’s small businesses and restaurants.
“If I could get this to be a yearly thing, I’d like to tie in some of our community and show off some of our local food joints right here in town,” she said.
There’s a chance of rain this weekend, but Powell hopes the community still turns out to support the vendors. She’s excited and ready to show people her passion.
“It was a huge undertaking but I’m excited,” she said.