Bigger Than Its Name: Little Craft Show draws artisans beyond NWA

Bigger Than Its Name: Little Craft Show draws artisans beyond NWA
April Wallace
awallace@nwadg.com

While you can count on the Little Craft Show to come through with food trucks, a photo booth and Mother’s Day giveaways, as you may have come to expect, this year’s show will have some new elements too.

Square to Square, the Fayetteville to Bentonville regional bicycle ride along the Razorback Greenway, will host a “Halfway Halt” at Walter Turnbow Park with live music all day May 7 right next door to the Little Craft Show at Shiloh Square in Springdale.

Hosting the Little Craft Show in Springdale is a natural choice, says its organizer, Monica Diodati, given that it’s central to the region and home to many of the artists and makers. And of those, there will be a lot of new faces manning the booths this year.

“Almost 50% of our applications this year were from artists who are just starting out, participating for the first time or this event is their first show ever,” she says.

A total of 85 makers will be selling their unique products that day, and while some of them hail from Kansas City, Tulsa, Little Rock and Missouri, Diodati says the majority are from Northwest Arkansas.

Lindsey Byers, creator of the Bandana of the Month Club, is one of those returning locals. This will make the fifth Little Craft Show she’s participated in.

“Each month I work with a different artist to create a different bandana,” Byers says of the all cotton, all made-in-the U.S. product. “I work with artists from all over the world.”

Byers prints a certain number of bandanas a month and what doesn’t go out in the subscription boxes can be sold at shows like the Little Craft Show. She did 30 shows last year alone.

“I wanted to choose a product that was useful and had more than one application,” Byers says. “I have always loved bandanas, and I’m creative but not artistic, so I get to work with (those who are) to create them.”

While you can wear them, of course, Byers says she uses them for all kinds of things. Her dog wears one, they act as cloth napkins, sustainable gift wrap and making bundles for storage, as well as the traditional handkerchief, sweat band or for dipping in the stream to cool yourself off on a long hike. On the fancier end, she sees them as accessories, perhaps as a scarf in your hair.

“I like to think they cross the line between work wear and fashion,” she says.

Other makers arrive from out of town because the Little Craft Show’s reputation precedes it.

Patrice Hill of Inali Jewelry Designs in St. Louis, Mo., says she heard about Little Craft Show while selling her jewelry at a show in downtown St. Louis. One of her customers was from Arkansas and said Hill’s pieces would be a good fit for the show.

“I hadn’t done an out-of-town show before, but I applied and was accepted and my first (Little Craft Show) experience was awesome,” Hill says.

She began making her own jewelry in the late ’90s, in part because the jewelry she was interested in was out of her price range and partly because it was difficult to find styles she really liked. She made herself a pair of earrings, and any time she wore them she got comments.

Since then she has developed many pieces — earrings, necklaces and wrist cuffs for example — with an Afrocentric, boho aesthetic, usually made with repurposed materials like old purses and other leather.

Diodati is among those who admired the Little Craft Show from afar. While in Dallas, she ran various maker festivals and night markets. She knew that when she moved to Northwest Arkansas she would want to be involved with what she calls an amazing event that she feels lucky to keep going.

Each year of the Little Craft Show is so different, she says, because of the mix of makers involved, and she loves how the vibe shifts with the artists who participate and the shoppers who arrive.

Like many organizations, the show took a break in 2020 and has since simplified from many complementary events and up to four shows a year down to now spring and holiday shows as the public eases back into in-person gatherings.

“Since being back in person, there’s a tangible excitement in the air that is hard to describe,” Diodati says. “We hope people will feel pride in the amount of talent we have right here in our community and that they’ll have a conversation or two with some of the makers.”

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FAQ

Little Craft Show

WHEN — 11 a.m.-6 p.m. May 7

WHERE — Shiloh Square in Springdale

COST — Free entry, but you’ll want to bring shopping and eating money

INFO — thelittlecraftshow.com, also on Facebook and Instagram

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