SACANDAGA PARK – Sean Kilmer was sitting at the dinner table with his family last Tuesday when an idea struck him, they should have a craft show on their property that coming weekend – Memorial Day weekend.
He, his partner Lana Panchenko and his mother and stepfather, Vicki and John Beck, travel to six shows within a 50-mile radius in the summer. Why not host their own show on their 16-acre property in Sacandaga Park, just up Houseman Street from Northampton Beach Campsite, instead? And so, in four days, the Saturday through Monday event was ready to go, and now it will happen every other weekend through Labor Day. Talks of a car show are even in the works for later this summer, the family said.
The family itself has four tables at shows selling T-shirts with varying phrases and designs, laser engraved plaques and signs, jewelry, corn bags, suncatchers, and equipment from Kilmer’s 3D printing business MakerTree 3D, which he runs out of the home. Spots will be free for vendors this summer. Starting next year, there will be a small fee in order to ensure everyone who says they’re coming, indeed, does.
“It’s simply too much money to pay to get multiple booths so, for us, it just made sense, with all of this increasing cost [that] inflation brings to the table for everybody,” Kilmer said. “And while a lot of venues are interested in that cost, we want to go the other way. Instead of just making this cheap, we want to bring it free, at least for the whole year.”
In Kilmer’s vision, a lot will be included. Fourteen of the 16 acres, which Kilmer grew up on, are pretty well set up to house the events. The half of the property where the first show took place is actually where there will be a grass parking lot for at least 100 visitors’ cars in the long-term plans. On the other side of a tree line is a large shaded area for roughly 70 vendors to set up on either side of paths where visitors will meander. A long-term hope is that each vendor’s space will not only allow them to pull up their cars, but even choose to camp there for the weekend.
There is a grass area in the proposed vendor section already where Kilmer sees food vendors setting up in a food court of sorts. In addition, a road that loops around that area will be used as an access road for staff, service and emergency vehicles. The property gets good cellular service for the area, which allows vendors to continue making electronic transactions, a growing component of the craft show business. They also own port-a-potties that will be spaced throughout the area. Minimal cost to vendors and visitors and ease of burden on the town and those passing by is important to Kilmer, he said.
The first show had three or four other vendors set up shop with a number of others stopping by to learn more, get a tour of the property and hear Kilmer’s plans. Jen Kuhn of Mayfield, owner of Y-Not Dog Cookies, which makes all-natural, homemade dog treats, was one of the vendors who set up, and she answered questions from other interested vendors that stopped by herself.
She said she is booked at shows through the fall and attends 40 or more shows. She said she is going to try to keep room in her schedule for this new show because she loved what Kilmer put together and wants to do for the community.
“He took us on a walkthrough there. He had music, he has food, he as port-a-potties, he has garbage. [He’s] beyond accommodating,” Kuhn said. “I just feel like they don’t have an angle. There’s no angle. They’re just about their community.”
Kilmer is following through on his mother’s dream, according to Vicki Beck, who makes the jewelry, corn bags and suncatchers. She was known in days gone by for running the Troll House out of the family home where she sold trolls and gnomes made by Danish immigrants Ken and Neta Arensbak of 5 Art Studio in Tennessee. She also used to teach ceramics and dabbled in sewing, painting and crocheting.
“It’s about supporting each other and vendors supporting each other,” Vicki Beck said. “The world is such an ugly place to be in right now, so this is a haven. It is. It’s my sanctuary and I love it. I love sharing it with people because I’m really proud of it.”