FAIRFAX, VA — Among the many victims of COVID-19 this year has been the life’s blood of artisans and craftspeople everywhere: The craft fair. When full-service event-management company SPARGO learned that a popular local craft festival, Sugarloaf, filed for bankruptcy this summer, it decided to launch Capital Craft Fairs, the inaugural version of which will be held October 16–18 at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Va. — only the fourth event to be held at the facility since it reopened in July.
SPARGO also plans to launch two more craft fairs, one this winter, to be held December 4–6, and one in the spring of 2021. More than 130 artisans have signed up for the fall event, and more than 150 are expected to exhibit at the Winter Fair.
“Nearly all local and regional shows for artisans have been canceled or moved to virtual platforms,” explained SPARGO President and CEO Susan Bracken. “The virtual exhibiting experience is not working, sales continue to decline and another stimulus package for small businesses appears out of reach. It was time to do something, and we knew a carefully managed show could operate as efficiently if not better than a traditional shopping mall experience.
“Demand from exhibitors has been overwhelming,” she added. The Winter Fair, which will take place Dec. 4-6, 2020, is sold out, and Bracken said the company is evaluating plans to add booths without sacrificing its COVID-19 safety protocols.
The company will work with the Center and local health authorities to ensure the safety of both the artisans — who work in media ranging from glass, jewelry and leather to specialty foods and woods — and buyers. Among the precautions that will be taken are mandatory face masks (provided free of charge), larger aisles and booths, temperature checks, limited capacity, and readily accessible hand sanitizer stations. In addition, ticket sales areas, which will have touchless ticket redemption, will ensure social distancing for staff, line monitors and guests.
“Attendee engagement on social media is enthusiastic, and it is clear COVID-19 safety is a top concern,” Bracken added. “Being able to design a retail experience from scratch allowed us to exceed baseline precautions in place at many brick-and-mortal retail establishments.”
Reach Susan Bracken at (703) 679-3903 or email@example.com.