A decade ago, Sally Parker—local artist and activist—felt disillusioned with the lack of spaces for artists like her at the Farmers Market. She followed the example of artisan fairs she saw in Oregon and started her own.
Despite the success of her business, Recollections Vintage & Pre-Loved, Debra Ariola says she felt like “a square peg in a round hole” as the only vintage seller among her peers of arts & crafts vendors. When she was invited to a local fair catering to vintage sellers like herself, she accepted.
Originally called the Square Tomatoes Craft Fair, Davis Craft & Vintage was founded by local artist and activist Sally Parker. The original name of the fair—as well as the logo, which Parker created —was a play on the 1970s invention of the square tomato, shaped to be more efficient to transport.
“She took things that people associated with Davis, like the bikes, toads, and square tomatoes,” Ariola said, “and put them together in a very fun and quirky way.”
Parker passed away in 2019, but Ariola and other volunteers work to continue what she started. Ariola is now the director of the Davis Vintage & Craft fair; she says she works to maintain Parker’s vision.
“When we became Davis Craft & Vintage in 2017, it was important to me to keep artisans at the forefront, to keep it affordable, and to increase our connections to the community,” Ariola said.
As director, she works behind the scenes to ensure the fair runs smoothly, maintaining connections with local nonprofits and working with the City of Davis to process things like permits and applications.
Ariola has also worked to team the Vintage & Craft fair with Couleurs Vives Art Studio & Gallery, a local nonprofit that provides financial and practical assistance to adult artists with disabilities.
“We thought that it was a perfect partnership because [it] would be wonderful for the special needs artists to be vendors and be a part of the community,” Couleur Vives director Kim Nguyen said. “I love seeing their growth and self confidence improve because they are out in the community doing what they love.”
In Davis, shoppers who turn into vendors keep the Craft & Vintage fair going.
Jen Wendt owns Crystal Witch. She was a long-time shopper until she started selling at the fair in 2021. But she wanted to do more.
“I fell in love with the fair and artisan community,and wanted to help it grow and expand the music offerings,” Wendt said. Wendt is now the formal band coordinator responsible for recruitment, scheduling, and contacting musicians.
Another volunteer, UCD alumna Stephanie Peel, wanted to be an artist all her life. When she found her post-graduation marketing jobs unfulfilling and returned to Davis for a family emergency, she pursued drawing and painting.
“I was lost on where to start and how to put myself out there,” Peel said. “It wasn’t until I joined the craft fair [that] I met the most amazing people. They helped me get started on making prints, the right displays, even connections to gallery curators and other great opportunities.”
You can catch the first Davis Craft & Vintage Fair of the year on Feb. 5 from 10a–4p at 301 C Street. You can also find more dates on their website, https://www.daviscraftandvintage.org/, and in the online events calendar at thedirt.online.
Couleurs Vives hosts free art classes for special needs adults each Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3:30p–4:30p. You can donate to Couleurs Vives via PayPal (@couleursvives).
Image credits, left to right.
Top: Stephanie Peel live painting; Jen Wendt, Crystal Witch; New Harmony Jazz Band
Bottom: Shopper at The Wildest Co.; Recollections Vintage & Pre-Loved