The Hand(made) Market’s Tale
One of the prettiest sites on Rehoboth’s Baltimore Avenue is surely the courtyard at the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center. White tables and chairs adorned with colorful umbrellas make for a fine respite for both patrons of CAMP Rehoboth events and tired shoppers looking to rest their feet for a few minutes on a warm summer day.
On a recent early evening that all changed, if just for a few hours. Suddenly, the picturesque courtyard became busy with buyers and sellers at the first-ever CAMP Rehoboth Handmade Market.
In so many ways, CAMP Rehoboth got this Handmade Market event right. In a big nod to our pandemic world, the market took place outside in their open-air courtyard to allow for safety and social distancing. Foot traffic was directed along a specific route, vendors and guests adhered to CDC guidelines, and everyone wore masks at all times. (Yes, EVERYONE wore masks!)
The CAMP Rehoboth weather folks even arranged for a lovely evening, making for a great turnout, way beyond what was expected. About half of the crowd were friends seeing friends outdoors on a gorgeous night. The other half were folks stopping by on the way to our great Rehoboth restaurants, or just browsing through Baltimore Avenue shops.
Even our own Senator Chris Coons showed up, bought a copy of Fay Jacobs’ latest book, and talked to and took photos with the crafters and CAMP Rehoboth staff members.
This new event, the brainchild of CAMP Rehoboth’s Kerry Hallett, featured an array of LGBTQ and ally artists and artisans showing off their wares to friends and passersby alike. Talent was everywhere, from photographer Geri Dibiasi’s Women’s FEST images to ceramic artist Miss Millie (Millie Crotty). Ten percent of all her sales are donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, a non-profit defending the rights of Black transgender people. As she says, “Cheers, Queers!”.
Gary and Kerry Stewart brought their lovely organic fragrances and wood carvings (quite a combination) representing Tall Oak Trading Company. Lisa Chambers of Delaware Bay Clay works to make unique utilitarian ceramics out of, you guessed it, clay.
There were Dan Bartasavich’s wares focused on inspirations from found objects, retired art teacher Sandy Curson’s handmade and wheel thrown pottery, and Jennifer Brown and son Mace’s unique colorful creations. And to top it off, there was a stunning photograph from Alexis McKenzie of a hydrangea blossom, and watercolors made from alcohol tint on Yupo paper (Yupo! A new word for the old vocabulary!),
Richard Thibodeau’s popular collection of enamel on glass mermen (there are mermen besides Ethel?). Some crafters even had business cards beautiful enough to buy.
So, besides the hefty organizational efforts of Kerry Hallett and her CAMP Rehoboth colleagues, what made this event so successful? For one, the market featured local artists from Rehoboth proper and Lewes to Long Neck. Buying local is a large attraction to Rehoboth residents, and this was a chance to support the local artist community.
These are tough times for artists. Some of the artisans had not shown their work since last fall; others, since March, when the pandemic took off. CAMP Rehoboth made its courtyard a place where the artists were comfortable and safe, and could engage with the public again.
Hallett, Operations Administrator at CAMP Rehoboth, got the idea of a CAMP Rehoboth Handmade Market from helping wife Millie (the aforementioned Miss Millie) with her shows and figured, “why not here?” Originally, the idea was to hold the event inside, but with COVID concerns, Kerry pivoted to, “why not outside?”
Finally, Kerry hoped to reach folks organically, to make them an integral part of the local artist community, either as artist or patron. Judging from interactions between the crowd and the artists, her hopes were realized.
As a visitor named Laura said, “I’m here to support the arts!” She had the right idea, and so did the Handmade Market.
Great news! The CAMP Rehoboth Handmade Market will take place every 2nd Friday from 5-8 p.m. in the CAMP Rehoboth Courtyard. Entry is free and open to the public. If you're an LGBTQ or ally artist or maker interested in participating, please email email@example.com.