‘A gesture of appreciation’: DED sponsors new fair markets for Diné artists, small businesses, defarmers
After the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 restrictions, two exciting new vendor events are taking place as part of the Navajo Nation Fair that will showcase and celebrate Navajo artisans, small businesses, and farmers.
The events aim to connect buyers and sellers.
Sponsored by the Nation’s Division of Economic Development, the “Arts Market and Expo” will feature about 130 Navajo artisans and small businesses owners who will have their work on display Sept. 7 to 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the fairgrounds.
“Art and small businesses are essential to the Navajo economy, but also to the surrounding economies throughout the region,” said DED Executive Director JT Willie. “We are looking forward to showcasing our Navajo artisans and small businesses and to reconnect them with their customers, right here at home.”
DED Support Services Manager Douglas Capitan said that through the division’s sponsorship, participating artisans and small businesses will have access to free vendor booths under large-scale, open-air tents at the fairgrounds.
Additionally, all participants receive free fair admission and parking passes at no charge as a gesture of support and encouragement from the division.
“It’s really a gesture of appreciation,” said Capitan. “This is an opportunity for artisans and businesses to put their goods and services out for the public to enjoy and purchase.”
This is an especially important opportunity since the fair is not holding the fine art exhibit and art competition this year.
‘Creating space’ for farmers
Separately, DED is sponsoring a new “Farmers Market” that will take place September 9 to 11, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the Hogan Tso office complex by HTE Realty and Navajo Times on Highway 264 (across the street from Taco Bell).
“It’s great for us, because we wanted to do outreach to our farmers, particularly this time of year when harvest season is coming around,” said Capitan.
“We want to highlight their importance to the Navajo economy and how essential they are to our overall health,” he said.
Fresh produce, flowers, plants and seedlings, milk, meat, cheese, honey, soaps and skincare products, as well as prepared foods, are among items that will be for sale.
“There will be a great variety of local growers featuring fresh steamed corn, Indian corn, squash, melons, peaches and tree saplings,” said event organizer Patty Dimitriou of HTE Realty. “We also have vendors featuring homemade baked goods, as well as sewing crafts, leather goods and fashions.”
The Farmers Market event is also free of cost to vendors who can reserve a 10 feet wide x 20 feet space that accommodates a 10 x 10 canopy and an average passenger vehicle.
“My mother Flora and I come from of a family of farmers, growers, ranchers and crafters so we’re really happy to be able to create a space for Navajo farmers and crafts people to sell their products to families coming to Window Rock to enjoy the fair,” said Dimitriou.
It’s not too late for artists and businesses and farmers to participate in the vendor markets – limited spaces are still available, but registration is required (see below).
Capitan said Navajo arts and crafts and small businesses vendors are also an important part of DED’s tourism effort and the division has worked hard to create opportunities like the new Arts Market and Expo and Farmers Market, the Artisan and Small Business Grant Program, and the Navajo Small Business Credit Initiative to support them.
DED also plans to host similar markets at the Western and Northern fairs, he said.
“We’re really happy and honored to welcome our Navajo artists and businesses to have this unique opportunity to provide their services and goods to the general public,” said Capitan.
For Arts Market and Expo information, email Douglas Capitan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 928-871-6544.
For Farmers Market vendor information, contact Patty Dimitriou at pattyd@hterealty or text 480-323-5655.
“We have a lot of interest in the Farmers Market, with approximately 30 booth spaces available, and we expect to be at capacity very soon!” said Dimitriou.
“We just hope that people come out and support the farmers and buy everything they bring!” she said.
Dimitriou said if this weekend’s Farmers Market is a success and meets a need for farmers to have a place to sell their crops and homemade goods, she will consider holding a regular farmers market at the Hogan Tso/HTE Realty location, which would be a valuable addition to the local economy.
“Following COVID-19, there are two takeaways that we should all remind ourselves,” said Willie. “Your team is your most important asset and never underestimate the resiliency of small business and aspiring entrepreneurs.
“Together, when businesses support businesses and are responsive to any situation or environment, communities thrive,” he said.
Vendor registration information is also available on the Division of Economic Development website: www.navajoeconomy.org and www.facebook.com/NavajoEconomicDevelopment