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What to Look For at "Best of Missouri Market" 2012; Part 2

A question and answer session with the co-directors of the annual Missouri Garden event.

Yesterday, "Best of Missouri Market" co-directors Lynn Kerkemeyer and Chelsea Harris talked about the history of the event, dating back 20 years. Today, the two talk about what kind of hot items will be on sale October 5-7.

Patch: Describe the unique items that will be for sale.

Harris: I brought my updated vendors list. We do try and bring in new vendors each year to keep the market fresh. We rotate out 30 percent of the vendors each year. Some of our fun new things are great new wood items, pepper mills and bowls and beautiful cheese trays. Those garden sharpeners made of porcelain are interesting.  Park Avenue coffee is coming this year with their 73 flavors of gooey butter cake. We have over 120 vendors offering such neat and unique things.

Kerkemeyer: Rotating those vendors out is a really hard thing to do because we have such wonderful vendors and they offer things specially unique and valuable to the market. But we feel that we owe it to our customers to always provide them something new and to give other small businesses the opportunity for the exposure.

We don’t do art per se. We are not competing with the St. Louis Art Show. But there are some unique art items. If you could see some of the beautiful gourds and their inlays. We feature baskets that are carved and painted. The art is more fitting to the harvest theme than fine art.

People always walk away with something they didn’t know they wanted until they got here.

For some of us, they will walk away with a couple of extra pounds on us too.

Patch: It just seems the best part is having such a wide variety of things going on.

Kerkemeyer: We hear that from our visitors all the time. They don’t know what the next booth will have.

Patch: This is the best time for those who have been away to come back to the gardens.

Harris: It is and it is fun and exciting and a robust festival with so many different activities with so many things to see and do and right, the weather is perfect. We have great volunteers who decorate with scare crows and bales of hay and make it look so festive. We have more than 200 volunteers setting up and running this event. We couldn’t possibly do it without them. The gardens are up to 1,800 volunteers overall.

Kerkemeyer: Year after year our vendors tell us this is the best run event and the most friendly and they have never gone to a craft fair or other event where they get so much help.

We have a cadre of volunteers just to help them unload their trucks and get the stuff to their booths.

Patch: So how does a vendor become a vendor for the market.

Harris: We’ve started an on-line inquiry program--its by invitation only. Its not juried per se. Someone needs to go on our website and describe briefly what they do. Then they can add pictures or a link to their website. We usually fill up in the spring.

Kerkemeyer: It is really tough because we try to give a really good mix of booths. We might get 200 applicants for jewelers because that’s what people do so we try and whittle that down to a reasonable mount. We don’t want to have 30 booths that are just jewelers.

Patch: Are Nora Stern or Ellen Dubinsky involved anymore.

Kerkemyer: Both Nora and Ellen retired after our 20th year but they still recommend vendors to us.

Best of Market October 5-7

Missouri Botanical Garden

4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110

Phone (314) 577-9400

Ticket Prices: $12 adults; $10 age 65 and over and $5 for Missouri Garden members and children. Under 3, free.

"Best of Missouri Market 2012" Website.

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