The Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds in Superior is poised to become a flea market, farmer's market, junk hunt and craft show hot spot.
Douglas County Trader’s Village, a grassroots group of local makers, will host monthly shows at the fairgrounds beginning April 10.
“I’m excited, I really am,” said organizer Lisa Lepak of Superior. “I love putting these together, because I like to see what we have out there. I like being able to be the catalyst for all this local support and people finding new favorites.”
Applications are currently being accepted from makers of all types. Vendors can sign up for a single event or for all of them, with early birds getting the “prime real estate,” Lepak said. A total of 55 makers had made commitments to attend by Feb. 5, and there’s room for many more.
“Trader's Village is not just a craft sale,” Lepak said. “We are open to flea markets, junk hunters and farmer’s markets.”
The Superior paper and fabric artist has been organizing craft shows in the area for the last four years, providing a platform for local makers to display and sell their work. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the majority of big venues for crafters last year, however.
The idea for the monthly Superior events came after Lepak co-hosted a craft show at the fairgrounds in October 2020. It was the first show she'd attended since December 2019.
“We had a phenomenal turnout of people, which told us that people are hungry for these shows,” Lepak said.
Fairgrounds manager Daniel Litchke had been seeking to bring some type of larger show, similar to the Carlton Chicken Swap or Hayward Flea Market, to the Superior space.
“It gives you something easy and convenient to do, while being safe and outdoors, while also helping the local businesses that are there to support them,” Litchke said.
The fairgrounds at 4700 Tower Ave. offers free parking, free admission and a large outdoor space for vendors in addition to indoor spots at the curling club.
“That’s the beauty of this. We can distance, we can open doors,” Lepak said. “We’re going to be as safe as humanly possible. We’ll definitely follow state and federal mandates.”
Lepak said she's looking forward to touching base with the rest of the craft show community at the monthly events.
Another vendor excited about the new village is Karen Hamilton, owner of Beyond Nuts. The Finland, Minnesota, company offers Bavarian style roasted nuts. Hamilton’s concessions trailer is the lifeblood of the business.
“We joke that the aroma that comes from the roaster is my best advertising,” Hamilton said.
Last year’s pandemic cut back her opportunities to bring that aroma on the road. She estimates her business was down 30% and she attended only a handful of outdoor events and a weekly farmer's market.
She encouraged members of the public to check out the monthly shows.
“Everybody talks about shopping local,” Hamilton said. “This is really how you can put your money where your mouth is, and support your neighbors who’ve struggled.”
Supporting local makers is important, especially now.
“You can buy some of this stuff at these big box stores, but when you buy from a local maker, you're not just buying the item, you’re buying skating lessons or a softball uniform,” Lepak said. “You’re supporting that family, not a company.”
It all kicks off with a chicken swap, flea market and barnyard bash April 10 beginning at 9 a.m., with events planned during the week of the Head of the Lakes Fair in July and Northland Nationals in September.
If you go
What: Douglas County Trader's Village
Where: Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds, 4700 Tower Ave.
When: April 10, May 8-9, June 13, July 23-25, Aug. 15, Sept. 11, Sept. 26, Oct. 9 and Dec. 11.