Made In St. Augustine: A Handcrafted Festival
Story by OCL Staff
A celebration of all things created in the nation’s oldest city, the Made in St. Augustine Fest, held on Francis Field this past February, proved to be an event to which everyone could relate, making it one of the most successful first-time events the town has ever experienced.
“We loved the Junior Made stations where my oldest daughter made a flower tiara! We bought hot sauce, plants and a necklace. All the food looked amazing. I especially liked that it was a different type of festival,” said St. Augustine local Robin Kemp.
The inaugural handcrafted festival brought together every type of business, individual and organization that creates absolutely anything and everything in the nation’s oldest city in one location for one day. And people LOVED it.
So much so that the attendance was triple the original estimate. Attendees were reeling with excitement commenting on the event. “Our city has needed this for so long;” “What a fabulous concept;” and “Everyone who creates in St. Augustine is here” were just some of the praises sung about the event during the day.
The handcrafted festival showcased not only established restaurants, merchants with storefronts, and well-known organizations and services, but also featured some hidden, lesser-known gems of the area, providing them with the spotlight for a day.
With more than 80 market vendors, the middle of Francis Field was packed with handcrafted offerings. The Made for Market section featured a wide variety of goods, including art, furniture, décor, personal care products, farm-fresh products, pottery, apparel, accessories, spices, sauces, specialty foods and beverages, flowers, jewelry, paper products, medicinal remedies, baked goods, accessories and even skateboards and surfboards.
Attendees were pleased with the layout of the festival which revolved entirely around interactive activities. “There was something to do at every turn,” said local resident Tracey Costello. “Workshops, Junior Made stations, food and beverage samplings, live cooking demos, fantastic live music by local performers, a great kids’ area, arts and crafts demonstrations and a cocktail competition. It was impossible to not be completely engaged.”
Located in the Made to Learn section was the Made to Create tent with expertled workshops that ran throughout the day. The workshops taught everything from art, creating products from honey, preparing healthy foods, to gardening and even shaping surfboards. There was even more to learn outside the tent. The demonstrations included creating cast nets, ironworking, fitness, dance and music, maritime heritage education, theatre and textile arts. Visitors could also learn about the area’s local resources from participants like the UF Whitney Lab and Sea Turtle Hospital, Ancient City Soccer, and the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.
At the Made for Fun tent, Old Coast Ales, Dog Rose Brewing, San Sebastian Winery and the St. Augustine Distillery were providing free samples. Greg Goldstein of Catch 27 was judged the winner of the cocktail competition with his “most authentic St. Augustine cocktail.” A full line-up of talented local musicians performed on stage including Clayton Bush, Kyra Livingston, Katy Schirard, the Ramona Duo and even the RJ Murray Jazz Band.
Kids were huge fans of the extensive Made for Kids area featuring inflatables and a virtual reality gaming trailer. Activities were available to them throughout the event through the Junior Made stations, which provided kids of all ages the opportunity to learn a new craft and take home their masterpieces.
The Made to Taste tent was extraordinarily popular as visitors sampled dishes by their favorite local chefs and discovered new tastes. Crowd favorites were Catch 27’s Minorcan Clam Chowder, The Reef’s Crabcakes and Datil Shrimp and Grits, Raintree’s Key Lime Pie and Meehan’s Irish Cream.
Perhaps the biggest success of the event was the sense of community it created. “There was just a great vibe and a feeling that everyone came together in one place in support of St. Augustine,” said Janice Jones of CycleHere Media, the festival’s video sponsor. “Everyone was excited to be there. Excited to be part of everything ‘made’ in St. Augustine and to have the opportunity to support all things local. It’s a concept everyone can be onboard with,” explained Jones.
Plans are already underway for a second Made in St. Augustine Fest. In the meantime, be sure to continually support our local vendors and the St. Augustine community to make the nation’s oldest city even stronger.