Hazel ParkOctober 31, 2012
Artisans and Farmers Market comes to Hazel Park
By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer
HAZEL PARK — A thriving market can be the pulse of the town, around which community members meet and mingle and build neighborly bonds. It can also be a place where many unique, locally sourced goods are sold at affordable prices.
John Catori and his wife Sandy Skiffington want to bring such a place to Hazel Park, the town they call home — and their current endeavor may be just the ticket.
The Artisans and Farmers Market will open at the Hazel Park Community Center, 620 W. Woodward Heights, on Friday, Nov. 2, offering up fresh produce, crafts, artwork and music, all made in Michigan. Vendors rent booths for $20 each; proceeds on the first five booths support the market, while the rest go to the Community Center.
This isn’t a one-time deal, either. The market will run from 3-8 p.m. the first three Fridays of every month, all 12 months of the year. In warm weather, the market will be outside on the lawn; in cold months, everything will move indoors.
“There’s a beautiful energy to a farmers market,” Catori said. “It’s the community, walking amongst each other and talking to each other. These days, we don’t walk around our neighborhoods and commune much.
“The market generally brings like-minded people,” he said. “It’s very warm and fuzzy. Everyone’s smiling, and it’s all ‘you made it’ at the market — sometimes there will be vintage stuff, since there’s a certain art to collecting it, but most of the stuff is original.”
The market has already had a couple dress rehearsals that tested the concept and showed great potential, Catori said. Vendor interest is high, with vendors at the first event expected to bring handmade jewelry and clothing, candles, soaps, lotions, home-canned goods, eggs, butter, honey, home and garden décor, such as pottery, and more.
Catori and Skiffington are crafters themselves. The husband-and-wife duo will bring handmade, multi-ethnic tribal jewelry, sun-catchers and so-called “Mystic Scrolls” — picture the Dead Sea Scroll, all rolled up, and made on elephant skin for an aged look, with a bit of colorful Asian flair, to boot.
“The reason I went with the scroll format is because it’s mythical and mysterious,” Catori said. “It also hangs on the wall easily.”
There will be live performances for a festive feel, with artists performing for free on the Community Center’s stage. In addition to the visibility this affords local performers, they can also sell their merchandise and accept tips without paying the booth fee.
Already, there are some belly dancers lined up, an accordion player, a musician who plays sitar and other Middle Eastern instruments, and single guitar acts, all at a volume low enough so that people can still talk and shop while being entertained. Don’t expect any heavy metal or rock bands.
Shelley O’Brien, the city manager’s management assistant, said the city is in full support of this grassroots initiative, and the Arts Council also gave it their endorsement.
“We at the city are very excited about the market coming to Hazel Park,” O’Brien said. “John approached me a couple of months ago; he wanted to know how he could do something like this in Hazel Park. We tried to find him a venue for it, and the Community Center ended up working well.
“We’ve had residents asking when we’d get something like this,” she said. “We’re doing anything we can to help him move this forward.”
The Artisans and Farmers Market will be at the Hazel Park Community Center, 620 W. Woodward Heights, from 3-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. The market will run the first three Fridays of every month of the year. Vendor spaces are $20. For more information or to register a booth, call Market Master John Catori at (616) 485-9011, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.