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Alumni debut arts and music festival Denton Makers Fest

Alumni debut arts and music festival Denton Makers Fest

Alumni debut arts and music festival Denton Makers Fest
May 07
17:37 2022

Parked cars line East Sycamore Street around Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios on April 30 as arts and music enthusiasts attend Denton Makers Fest’s first event. 

The festival took place from noon to 6 p.m., featuring more than 30 vendors. Artists displayed and sold work ranging from hand-made pottery and jewelry to leather goods. Food at the event was provided by The So Good Vegan and Blind Fox food trucks among others.  

As festival attendees shopped, six local musical acts played throughout the day, including Denton-based rock band Dirty Dan and the Basketball Boys. Flash tattoos were also available at High Seas Tattoo across the street from the event.

Makers Fest was founded by university printmaking alumna Madison Mercer, 27, and communication design senior David Baker, 24. The duo wanted to create an inclusive space for new artists to share and sell their work, Baker said. 

“We want to build a better community for Denton [artists],” Mercer said. “Kind of similar to the Denton Community Market, but more geared toward art.” 

Additionally, the co-founders saw gaps in the affordability of existing art markets and festivals in Denton. 

“We noticed that there is no large art event for artists who cannot afford Jazz Fest,” Baker said. “We wanted it to be accessible to anybody and everybody. The most you can pay to be an artist here is $60.”

The festival was a new experience for Denton-based potter Casie Cheek, 22, who owns Lalabee Pottery. In the last year, she started building up inventory to sell after practicing pottery as a hobby for the last 15 years. Makers Fest was the second market she has sold at, she said. 

“Everybody has been super nice,” Cheek said. “A lot of fests around Denton are kind of cliquey, but the [Makers Fest organizers] have been really accommodating.”

Communication design senior Rebs Beers, 22, is a graphic designer and digital illustrator. They usually table markets and events on campus and applied for a booth position at the festival after working with a different vendor at Armadillo Ale Works. 

“It has been a little bit slow, but it has been really cool to meet people in the community,” Beers said. “It is a lot different than tabling on campus because you get to meet people at different stages in their life.”

The process of creating and organizing Makers Fest started after the arts market FOLD Fest held its last event in 2019. FOLD’s founders told Mercer they would not be holding the event again due to their plans to move away from Denton, she said. 

Mercer and Baker asked if they could take the idea and repackage the festival under a new name: Denton Best Fest. The festival was set to take place on April 4, 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to reschedule, Mercer said. 

Over the course of the pandemic, Mercer and Baker focused on expanding the event and including more local artists. The festival was rebranded because they “did not want to sound pretentious,” Mercer said. 

They held multiple smaller markets during 2021 to raise funds for the main festival, which was rescheduled twice more. 

“It has been a roller coaster,” Mercer said. “For a while, it was discouraging because we kept having to cancel and reschedule. We did not want the community to think we were not professional.”

One final hurdle came when Armadillo Ale Works, where Mercer worked as an event manager, announced its closure on March 27. Originally, Makers Fest vendors were to be spread out between Rubber Gloves and Armadillo, but the former ended up accommodating the entire festival, she said.

Mercer and Baker plan to bring the festival back next year as an annual event.

Strong Work plays at Denton Makers Fest on April 30, 2022. Photo by Maria CraneDenton makers fest Anderson-0296Denton makers fest Crane--4Denton makers fest Crane--2Denton makers fest Crane--3Denton makers fest Anderson-0232Denton makers fest Anderson-0313Denton makers fest Anderson-0323Denton makers fest Crane-
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An attendee of Denton Makers Fest looks at a table inside of Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio on April 30, 2022. Photo by John Anderson

Featured Image: Attendees of Denton Makers Fest look at an artist’s booth on April 30, 2022. Photo by John Anderson

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Connor Patterson

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