Inspiring places: The Country Living Fair in Columbus Ohio

Country Living Fair Ohio Village Columbus 2014I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of creative inspiration by going out and and seeing what other people are doing. After all, as Kirby Ferguson says, all creative work is a remix of things that have been done before–so embrace the remix!

If you follow Emmet Street Creations on Instagram, you already know that in September I had the chance to go to the Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio. Don’t let the name fool you; there is little about “country living” presented here. But, if you like handcrafted home goods, clothing and jewelry, original art, upcycled creations, old junk to repurpose yourself, handcrafted soap and body care products, this is the place for you. (And, if you like the primitive/cute country inspired look, there’s stuff for you, too!) Don’t believe me? Do a search on Pinterest for Country Living Fair and you’ll find a plethora of photos of the wares on display.

Held near the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Ohio Village (a really neat replica of a settlement-era Ohio town run by the Ohio Historical Society worth checking out), this event put together by Country Living magazine has become a fall tradition in Columbus (and has grown to a total of three locations east of the Mississippi: Columbus, Atlanta and Rhinebeck, New York).

My Mom and I spent several hours outdoors in the beautiful fall weather saying “Ooh, look at this!” and “Oh, that’s so cool!” we took home a few treasures and a lot of inspiration (pics below). I’ve got a few projects in mind for the long, dark days of winter…

Country Living Fair Columbus 2014 - Swag and Inspiration

Photos, clockwise (starting top left): Dried natural loofah (vendor unknown); Flying pig pillow, Eric & Christopher; Upcycled Scrabble pendant, The Scrabble Chick; Goat tote, Eric & Christopher

Here are some tips if you plan to attend next year’s Fair:

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes. You will be walking around a grass and dirt field for many hours. ‘Nough said.
  • Bring lots of patience. Because the Fair has become an established event that a lot of people look forward to, well, there are a lot of people there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Bring your own shopping bags. The vendors will appreciate you and you’ll appreciate having a comfy tote or granny shopping cart to haul your treasures instead of a plastic shopping bag that will dig into your hand or a paper bag that could have a blow out. (Note: If you buy large items, like furniture, they do have a large item pick up near the exit. The vendors arrange for your purchase to be taken there and then you can drive up to it when you leave.)
  • Bring cash. Because most of the vendors are small outfits, you may be able to negotiate a discount for saving them credit card transaction fees.
  • Bring a packed lunch. You will likely be at this event for several hours. You will get hungry and there are few food vendors at this event and even fewer healthy options. The lines for food are long and the healthiest food option had a two-and-a-half hour wait. I was going to skip eating, until I realized I was getting hangry and treating my companion poorly because of it (sorry, Mom!). Luckily, I found a shortish (meaning around a twenty-minute wait) line for a vendor selling overpriced sandwiches and fruit cups.

Now to you: What gets your creative juices flowing? I’m always looking for new sources of inspiration…