Fairs, craft shows and bat flight
Sunflower Stables was the second barn sale to open in this area four years ago (the first being Bird & Barn, founded one year earlier.) Although popular in other areas of the South, barn sales, so named because they are held in barns, were still an unknown here. The debut of barn sales coincided with the popularity at that time of barn weddings, and a lot of the items sold in the sales were along that rustic, homespun line of decor.
“We chose a barn sale because we had been to them as consumers and liked the combination of crafts, antiques, jewelry, boutique items, etc., that were sold in that particular type of venue. We didn’t just want a craft show,” says Deborah Lofton, a founder of Sunflower Stables.
“The first one I ever went to was the Strawberry Patch barn sale in Hartsville, Tennessee. We decided if we would drive three hours there and three hours back to attend one, surely people would drive 30 minutes or so to come to one that we could host,” she explains.
And they did. Sunflower Stables has hosted more than 1,000 visitors over its two- day sale — and that was without the benefit of roadside visibility. Its location in a Cleveland barn couldn’t be seen from the road.
To correct that problem, the organizers of Sunflower Stables are moving this weekend’s fourth sale to the new Collegedale
In addition to moving the barn sale earlier in the fall, Friday’s show hours have been lengthened to 7 p.m. to allow people to stop by after work.
Commons, located just behind Imagination Station, the Collegedale City Hall and library branch.
“The Commons is a smaller space, but has given us more exposure to the community,” says Lofton. “It’s a more populated area, there’s a lot of excitement at that particular place right now with t he Commons having just opened, Cambridge Square being nearby and its Friday night markets. That whole area is bustling right now.”
More than 40 food and craft vendors will fill The Commons pavilion.
Lofton says in addition to moving the barn sale earlier in the fall, Friday’s show hours have been lengthened to 7 p. m. to allow people to stop by after work. Also new this year: four food trucks on-site, as well as expected festival concessions such as kettle corn and hot dogs.
“Having food trucks is a big deal to us because we’ve wanted to do that and couldn’t until this year,” Lofton says.
Barn sales are different from craft sales in that items sold are less the kitschy handmade crafts and lean more toward gift ideas. For example: decorative handmade signs by Nerdy Birds and whipped soap from Rustic Rooster.
Lofton estimates half of the crafts vendors are new to this market. Among the newcomers will be Jean Overmyer’s paintings, handmade greeting cards from 3weebirds, jewelry from Barn Door Boutique, Matilda Jane children’s clothing and scrapbooking products from Creations by Sweet.
“We are very excited about our new venue and new date this year,” Lofton says. “We have struggled with the cold and rain for the last couple of years and hopefully we can change that this year.”
BATS, BEER AND BLUEGRASS
To the bat cave! Ruby Falls and the Southeastern Cave Conservancy are presenting a conservation- themed event on Saturday that combines three local favorites — craft beers, barbecue and bluegrass by Slim Pickins and Caney Creek Company. The party will be capped with a viewing of endangered gray bats flying out of Fricks Cave. The bat-viewing is a fundraiser for the Stewardship Endowment Fund, which helps preserve 170 caves on 31 preserves in six states.
BEST ROAD TRIP
The Rotary Club in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has held a crafts show in Rotary Park for four decades. It’s set up under a red- striped tent in the big green space that’s easy to find right behind Pigeon Forge’s landmark, the Old Mill, near the attractions on Old Mill Square.
The P i ge o n Forge Rotary Club Craft Fair has 75 vendors exhibiting — but they don’t all stay the whole time. They can rotate in and out, which results in constantly changing merchandise.
This crafts show opens Sept. 26, but continues for a month. So leaf lookers who wait a couple of weeks can combine a quick weekend getaway to view foliage with shopping a crafts show in a setting surrounded by the beautiful Smoky Mountains.
Sunflower Stables Barn Sale is Friday and Saturday, Sept. 21-22, in the new Collegedale Commons.