Mount Rainier, Maryland: Joe’s Movement Emporium and the Mt. Rainier Craft Fair grew up together though they didn’t meet until 2007. Twenty years ago, Joe’s Movement Emporium founder and Executive Director Brooke Kidd was fresh out of college and looking for rehearsal space for her World Arts Focus artists in Mount Rainier, MD. Meanwhile, also in Mount Rainier, Mimi Mckindley-Ward hosted six local crafters in her living room for their first community craft fair. Brooke’s World Arts Focus endeavor began to grow and needed a permanent home; thus Joe’s Movement Emporium was born. Back at the Craft Fair, year-by-year it outgrew local living rooms, church halls and community rooms. In 2007 Joe’s Movement Emporium moved out of their 34th Street storefront to a newly renovated direct-mail warehouse on Bunker Hill Road. That December, the Mt. Rainier Craft Fair found a new home at Joe’s Movement Emporium, and has been there ever since.
On the first Saturday of every December, a passionate group of volunteers organize Mount Rainier crafters for one of the biggest economic events of the year. Joe’s opens it’s doors to more than 600 visitors to support more than 40 local artisans. This year, the cooperative community event will offer a wide variety of vendors including handmade soap, jewelry, pottery, paintings, sculpture, photography, felted clothing, numerous textiles and leatherwork. All items are handcrafted, making each item at the fair special and unique. Works include eye-catching quilted wall-hangings, table runners, purses and fabric bowls by Sondra Barrett Hassan, beautiful photo prints by Kim Marie Peterson, unique jewelry by Jan Baird Addams and textile masterpieces by Renate Maile-Moskowitz. Each year there is one table exclusively for kids, allowing young crafters to sell their wares right beside Mount Rainier’s well-organized and prolifically creative local Girl Scout Group.
Renate Maile-Moskowitz who has been with the fair since year one, shares that though “it takes a whole village to raise this Communal Fair … when all our ‘locals’ stroll through the aisles, including those who have moved far and wide in these last 20 years … our rooms sparkle and glow with this spirit of humankind, community and friendship.” Maile-Moskowitz credits Mckindley-Ward with envisioning a bazaar for the ample local artistic talent to show off and sell their goods years before the “SHOP LOCAL” movement began to gather momentum. Maile-Moskowitz concludes that Mckindley-Ward deserves “all the accolades and especially gratitude from our whole community for having planted a seed 20 years ago that has grown beyond all of our expectations.”
Mt. Rainier local Kathy Shollenberger remembers, “the first time I visited the Craft Fair, it was as a customer. The event had a very different flavor; it was in the basement of Trinity Lutheran Evangelical Church. The fair was smaller and not nearly as festive.” It wasn’t until at the Methodist Church, “the Craft Fair added what has become its trademark festive, bigger-than-life decorations, featuring all manner of greens, and lights anchored with bamboo.” Schollenberger joined the fair as a vendor in 2005. Two years later, when it moved to Joe’s Movement Emporium’s permanent home on Bunker Hill Road, she recalls the fair has more “vendors (with more variety), taller bamboo, and music (from roaming carolers to local bands).” She adds despite its growth, the Craft Fair has retained “its lovely community feel, with neighbors and friends taking their time to peruse the wares, have a bite to eat, and visit.”
The Mt. Rainier Craft Fair is not limited to crafts. Each year the fair plays host to music from local musicians as well as food, creating a festive atmosphere for the community to meet, eat, chat, and shop. With local vendors selling mouth-watering treats for breakfast and lunch, many make a day out of the fair and spend the hours catching up with neighbors and friends.
The fair will take place December 6th from 10 am to 5 pm at Joe’s Movement Emporium, located at 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainier, MD 20712. Free to attend. More information can be found by visiting Joe’s online at www.joesmovement.org.