For Mary Michael Ryan, perusing the booths and noshing on succulent treats at the Pink Palace crafts fair is a part of family tradition.
“When I was in elementary school we went every year; all I really remember are the corn dog stands and the homemade biscuits,” Ryan said, laughing. “I always got to buy something too so that was fun.”
This is the Pink Palace’s 41st year to put on the event at Audubon Park. Most of the staff that works at the fair are volunteers from an organization called Friends of the Pink Palace.
“I think this fair is a great fundraiser for the museum because it gives artisans and craftsmen an opportunity to showcase their work, and it is also very family friendly,” said Sally Coleman, the fair’s treasurer. “On average, we raise about $100,000.”
Ryan, a 25-year-old graduate student at Memphis College of Art., attends the fair for more than just a weekend festivity. For her, it is a place to get inspiration for her portfolio.
“I love seeing the dedication of the people that work for themselves, selling their own art and being successful at it,” Ryan said. “I love seeing the different techniques used and meeting local artists.”
in Westcliffe, Colo. Merriman specializes in hand-crafting exquisite leather made journals employing a 800-year-old binding technique.
“I try to make my journals fuse old timey designs with contemporary,” Merriman said.
Merriman’s journals range in price anywhere from $50 to $500, depending on the size.
“I feel like anything hand-made is special, people put their best work in these journals,” she said.
Merriman first learned about craft shows when she was 22. She was originally interested in majoring in math in college, but saw the life of a traveling artist more appealing.
“There are many different ways to sell art, some people like galleries, some prefer auctions,” she said. “I like talking directly to the patrons, the authenticity draws me in.”
Merriman’s mathematical aptitude and artistic ability recently intersected on a piece titled “Seed of Life” a perfect circle drawn with points equidistant from each other.
“Instead of using Google like I think most people would, I just applied some of my trigonometry skills,” Merriman said.
“I think we are the only booth that has free samples. We all really like the volunteering; you couldn’t put a price on this,” said Diana Chambers, a volunteer cook at Country Kitchen.
Country Kitchen is owned by Kathy and Lee Drouin, both members of the Friends of the Pink Palace organization. The booth has operated for 15 years by the hands of fellow members.
Drouin said the chairman of the Pink Palace has never had to seek out volunteers, there are always people who willingly want to help.
“We have teenagers come out and volunteer, and it is the first time they have cooked anything in their life,” Drouin said.
Country Kitchen’s specialty is not only baked goods, but the toppings that go on them.
“We make our butter right here. We just put whipping cream in a jar and shake it until it becomes butter,” she said, “The honey comes from local bee keepers, and our produce from Easy-Way, everything is local.”
Country Kitchen’s volunteers pay for the ingredients and supplies for their booth out of their own pocket.
“We could turn in receipts, but we choose not to,” Drouin said. “All of our donations go right back to the Pink Palace.”