As a fellow maker, and regular stall holder at Kev's Fest, I talk in-depth with local artist Kev Colbear and his colleague Miranda Acres about their vision for a local makers market...
When did you start it:
Our first set of Kev's Festivals ran from 14th November to 20th December 2020 during the Coronavirus Pandemic ... 6 weekends in a row! At the time, we just had around 10 stalls (not necessarily the same ones each weekend).
How did you come to work together
Kev is a client of mine - I'm his design/marketing consultant - responsible for website/social media/promotional materials etc. I also organise/manage events and so, when Kev suggested a series of markets on his family's land, it seemed like a great idea!
What where you trying to achieve and do you feel you have achieved it
When we started Kev's Festivals, we were in the midst of a pandemic. We both have many, many friends and acquaintances that are makers and artists in various media and, for most of them who generally sell face-to-face, they were struggling to make ends meet.
We wanted to give small, independent businesses a chance to physically trade in as safe a way as possible, and to give the public something fun to do, and to introduce them to new makers, artists and traders. Over the course of the 6 weekends that we were open, we had one-way systems in place, we had stalls spaced a few metres apart, we had sanitizer everywhere and we had lots of safety signage to ensure that everyone was as safe as possible ... we definitely achieved our aim and we've never looked back!
Now, we're part of the 'circuit' that all of our makers, artists and traders sell at, and we're pleased that we've established ourselves as a popular part of that scene - giving people opportunities to sell, and giving our audience chances to buy the most amazing, unique and diverse products in one field. We've established a festival feel with all stallholders in one giant circle facing inwards and we know that it just works - we've also built up a great list of the best creatives in the land!
What do you both love the most about it
For my part, I love the people - makers and visitors. We've now been doing this for three years, 3 x per year and, in all that time (and we now have around 50 makers at each event), we have only ever had one or two traders that just didn't 'fit in' with our friendly, laid-back, sociable way of working. Every time we put on an event, I can honestly say that we have the most fabulous weekend and every single person (traders and visitors) makes it so!
What’s the best feedback you have ever had
I have to say, I'd struggle to think of any bad feedback. And I'm struggling to think of one piece of feedback that stands out from all the rest. We have fabulous stallholders and we attract an amazing audience - and all of them are so complimentary. We've created a beautiful event and people seem to love it!
What was the hardest thing you have ever had to do regarding the festival
Cancel last Christmas's event due to flooding in the field. I seriously actually cried for a week - I felt as if I'd personally let everyone down - on reflection, it was the weather system that let everyone down, but I knew that stallholders were relying on their income from this weekend's event for their own Christmases. What I think people don't realise is that, to put on events like this, it really does take months of planning - down to the last detail. To deconstruct an event once it's cancelled, and be able to refund traders as much as we're able, takes almost as much work... with no happy outcome.
We're glad that we're now working with Fields Farm Shop and Cafe, Kev's neighbours, to host events on their land - less chance of flooding, space indoors... and farm animals to boot!
The last in the 2023 series of Kev's Fest will be taking place on the 2nd and 3rd December at Fields Farm Cafe in East Bergholt. As a regular stall holder Elsie&Tom will be popping up, but inside, this time as we are cautious of the damp weather damaging our products. The event opens to the public at 10am and closes at 4pm on both days.