The Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair of Kansas City is becoming one of the most popular makers events in the Midwest and the U.S.
Mark your calendar for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6. The next Strawberry Swing — there are four per year — is breaking new ground on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
“It’s the perfect venue,” says Katie Mabry van Dieren, who owns and runs Strawberry Swing. “Fine art meets arts and crafts.”
For each event, van Dieren and a jury curate more than 100 makers. One of the stipulations is that the makers must be present — not employees or family members in their place — to meet customers.
“In this world where Amazon Prime is the top retailer, it’s refreshing to meet the makers of what you buy just like it’s refreshing to meet the farmers who grow your food,” van Dieren says.
Each Strawberry Swing raises funds for a nonprofit; for this one, they go to the Nelson.
Van Dieren has been Strawberry Swing-ing since the event’s beginnings in 2011, originally as a maker of jewelry and stationery.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve been making things, cross-stitch, photography, jewelry, a little bit of this and that,” she says.
The original owner of Strawberry Swing moved to Colorado and handed the event over to van Dieren, saying she was the perfect person to run it. She’s enjoyed leading its growth and getting to know Kansas City makers.
“One vendor cried with happiness after an event because she’d earned enough money to pay her rent for three months,” van Dieren says. “I also love to see bartering between vendors who trade handmade items instead of money.”
Strawberry Swing includes “Little Entrepreneurs,” children ages 4 to 12 who make things, often to raise money for their school or a charity. Unlike other vendors, they’re not charged booth fees.
Strawberry Swing also includes a maker-led area for kids to craft, food trucks and a photo booth — you can expect this one to include shuttlecocks.
Van Dieren is too busy at Strawberry Swing to sell her own items. But does she still work with her hands? Absolutely (her Etsy store is PapillonKate). After all, makers gonna make.