Many of Utah’s favorite summer events have been canceled due to COVID-19, but Craft Lake City isn’t letting the pandemic ruin its 12th annual DIY Festival — instead pivoting to an online format open to shoppers around the world.
It will feature work by more than 240 Utah-based artisans — selling handmade paintings, pottery, jewelry, home decor, enamel pins, soap and skin care products, among other things.
Engineers, specialty food creators, performers and vintage vendors — who upcycle or recycle clothing — are among the creatives in the event, billed as the state’s largest locally focused arts festival and presented by Harmons.
The primary goal “is to highlight all of the incredible talent that we have here amongst our local creative communities,” said Angela H. Brown, executive director of the Salt Lake City-based nonprofit Craft Lake City.
“But the other reason to come out virtually and support these artisans,” she said, “is because all of this money will stay in our local economy.”
The festival will be held on Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with two hours dedicated to child entrepreneurs age 14 and under from 1 to 3 p.m; and Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. You can access the event at virtualdiyfestival.com.
Participants will create an avatar and explore 3D virtual galleries while interacting with creatives. Viewers can visit an artist’s virtual store by clicking on a web link next to an art piece.
Utahns who want to learn new cooking skills can participate in a gnocchi food workshop, and attendees can enjoy a live feed of local music performances on KRCL 90.9 FM.
While the galleries will only be available during the festival’s hours, attendees can shop 24 hours a day. And the event — which usually costs $7 per day — will be free due to the online format.
Amanda Stewart, founder and designer of Mochi Kids — a children’s clothing line based in Salt Lake City — said her clothes, enamel pins, face masks and face shields will be featured in the art festival.
“I love Craft Lake City. I’ve participated in the last four years and it’s my favorite event probably in all of Utah, especially in the summer,” Stewart said.
Participants also can go into the virtual Google Fiber STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) building to see galleries created by local engineers at tech startups, nonprofits and educational institutions. Craft Lake City will also show recorded videos explaining STEM projects, such as how to compost.
One group in the Google Fiber STEM building will be Make Salt Lake, a nonprofit makerspace where Utahns with a membership can use equipment such as 3D printers, a wood shop, a metal shop and laser cutters.
Manager Rio Sabella said the nonprofit will show roughy a dozen tutorial and demonstration videos of projects that were made in the work space. Videos will explain how to make things like custom stickers and shirts or use pieces of equipment.
Make Salt Lake also has an entire room in the virtual gallery dedicated to projects made by nonprofit members. “We’ve got everything from [a] table and chairs that someone made to custom robots that people have done,” Sabella said in an interview.
“It’s really cool to see the stuff that people have been producing even with a pandemic going on,” he said. “I’m continually inspired by folks stepping up and making the best of a challenging situation and continuing to be creative.”
Brown noted the online format allows participants to view and purchase art safely.
“The DIY Festival typically sees large crowds that do not allow for effective social distancing,” Brown said. “Taking the festival online is the best way to proceed that will not only ensure that safety remains a high priority, but also allows for our creative community to continue to grow and thrive during these challenging times.”
• Artisans who want to participate in the festival next year can look for applications in January 2021. Craft Lake City offers scholarships to cover the participation fee and provides business mentorship.