“Something for everyone” is often nothing more than cliché, but at the Mini-Cassia Craft Fair, the saying goes beyond lip service – it’s true.
For over 20 years the Mini-Cassia Craft Fair has annually drawn 150 craftsmen and artisan vendors from Idaho, California, Oregon, Wyoming and Utah. They bring thousands of unique items with them – from potato fudge to hand-sewn, tailored Barbie doll clothes, home décor, natural lotions and more.
With the wide variety of handmade products and the show’s unyielding support and attendance, it’s no surprise that the Idaho Chamber of Commerce rates the show as one of the state’s best.
Event co-producer Jean Phillips said this year’s vendor lineup will delight both first-time shoppers, as well as those who consider the fair holiday tradition.
“Our fair is different and continues to be so popular because almost everyone brings handcrafted items. We try to stay away from commercially produced items because the fair is about finding custom gifts for people, gifts that are one-of-a-kind,” Phillips said.
It’s the same standard Phillips set when she and a friend created the fair 22 years ago. The formula was instantly successful. In its first year, the fair outgrew a Burley school gymnasium and was moved to Minico High School, where vendors quickly filled two gymnasiums and surrounding hall space.
Even with expanded floor space, Phillips said it still isn’t enough for every vendor wanting in.
“We still have a three-year waiting list,” Phillips said. “Unfortunately, vendors sometimes decide not to wait and we wish we could provide space for everyone.”
It’s no surprise vendors clamor to be a part of the yearly shopping extravaganza. Some walk away from the one-day event grossing over $20,000 in sales.
“Every year we have anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 people,” Phillips said. “We’ll even have bus loads from Pocatello, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls come in. Now that the show has been going for so long we have adults, bringing their children, who came as children.
“It’s been such a pleasure being a part of and seeing the fair become a big, fun positive affair for everyone involved,” she said. “It’s like a big party.”
Maquel Wrigley, 39, of Burley attended the fair for years before setting up a vendor booth for her Kountry Kuts vinyl lettering and design business, which she does when not at her full-time job as an assisted living facility manager. The fair accounts for one-third her annual sales and she hopes this year is no different.
“I’ve done vinyl lettering on clothing, iron-on screen prints for athletics and such,” Wrigley said. “There is such a wide range of things you can do with vinyl. Right now custom lettering and home design is pretty popular. In my own home I’ve put up favorite family recipes on my kitchen wall or quotes from family members. It really personalizes the home. Whatever your personality or taste, vinyl can be used.”
Wrigley will be taking special orders during the fair and also selling items like old barn doors, windows and wooden bed headboards that people can design and use as highly-tailored home décor.
What really sets the fair apart, Wrigley said, are the organizers.
“The spot is so very affordable and the business you’ll do pays for it but what really makes the fair, for the vendors, is how they have it set up and structured. Everything you need is there, they work for you and everything is very organized,” Wrigley said. “It’s very user-friendly.”
Sandee Tuck, owner and operator of Sandee’s Candees, is the maker of the well-known SPUD Fudge, although she sells 14 varieties. Even Martha Stewart raved about her baked-potato, topped with sour-cream and butter looking treat when she invited Tuck to be featured on her daytime television show.
Tuck has sold her candy at the Mini-Cassia Craft Fair off-and-on for 17-years.
“The fudge is made four-pound batches at a time in my kitchen. It really is a labor of love,” Tuck said. “That’s the great thing about the fair, most everything there is made the same way – lovingly, by hand.”
They’re gifts worth giving – even if you’re just giving to yourself.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was published October 2010. Please visit the website below for current event information.
Planning to go?
Please visit the Mini-Cassia website for current event and contact information.