The third in a series of community markets takes place this Saturday, July 17, at Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park, 49777 Road 427, Oakhurst, from 10 am to 4 pm. A variety of vendors from the mountain area offer their wares in a parklike setting.
OAKHURST – Fresno Flats Historical Village and Park didn’t let any grass grow under its feet when the shutdown began to lift. Beginning in mid-May, the historical site booked its first public offering of the year: a community flea market. As part of the board of directors’ vision for the center, they determined to make this a regular event, occurring monthly.
Two components comprise the event.
The Community Flea Market is open to most vendors with few restrictions. Paul Adelizi, president of the Sierra Historic Sites Association, states: “What is most satisfying is seeing vendors who are selling their products for the first time. We are trying to help the community, so we have kept our booth fees low.” It presents an opportunity for new and seasoned crafters and sellers to have a regular place to display their wares.
For the May event Fresno Flats hosted about forty vendors with approximately half that for the second market in June. Paul suspects that heat has played a role in how many vendors sign up, as well as customer participation.
For Fresno Flats, as for the vendors, this is a learning experience, and they are figuring out what the community wants, what the best times are and how to carry the mission forward.
Admission for buyers is free as are booths for non-profit organizations, while vendors pay a minimal booth fee. Fresno Flats also sells their own donated products as well as product from their gift shop. Docents also offer tours of the facility. Paul says, “it is not just about having the Flea Market make money. We want to be part of the community, be used by the community and provide value to the community.”
For July the park features readings in one of the historic buildings by children’s book authors Karen J. Moore and Kathleen Gorman. Readings take place from 10:30 am to 11:30 am.
As a former Title 1 Instructional Aide and Literacy Tutor, Karen Moore knows the critical role good picture books play in learning to read. She loves exploring new places, a good mystery, all things dark chocolate, and attending car shows with her husband and their 1955 Ford pick-up truck. She lives and dreams in the foothills of the Central Valley.
Kathleen Gorman is a retired reading specialist teacher who lives with her husband Bill and their three very unique dogs in Madera Ranchos. She graduated from CSU, Fresno, where she received her Master of Ars degree in Reading and Language Arts. She and Bill enjoy spending time with their grandchildren. The gift of storytelling runs deep in her family. Growing up in central California, she listened to her father’s and uncles’ stories. Bits of their stories find their way into her storytelling.
The second component of the monthly fairs is Mountain Artisans Market, created and led by Sandy Schaefer, who sells anything and everything lavender under the name of FromMyGarden Lavender Products and Gifts. She has been a fixture at many farmers markets and fairs in our area for many years.
In early 2020 she started looking for a year-round sales opportunity, staging weekly or monthly, in our area. She approached her friend, Colette Goga of Yosemite Wine Tails, about staging a monthly event as a way to draw attention to her business and provide a regular venue for local crafters. Colette was open to the idea, so Sandy contacted five crafter friends and they staged the first Mountain Artisans Market in February with a positive response from both participants and customers. Plans were in place to continue the following month.
Then the world shut down.
A few more markets were staged at Yosemite Wine Tails between June 2020 and May 2021, but COVID restrictions made it difficult to gain any momentum. When Fresno Flats approached Sandy with the idea of staging Mountain Artisans Market as a part of their Community Flea Markets, she felt a solution had presented itself.
While the Fresno Flats Community Fairs are seasonal, Mountain Artisans Market plans to present a year-round market on the third Saturday of each month. For July and August, they’ll be part of Community Flea Market. For September, they’ll be a part of Heritage Day.
For interested artists, artisans and crafters, the rules differ a bit. Vendors must live in and make, produce and grow their products in a mountain community in Madera, Mariposa or eastern Fresno County. MAM accepts vendors based on the uniqueness and quality of their product.
Space fee is $25 per event. Fifteen dollars goes to Fresno Flats, with the remaining $10 to MAM for marketing materials, signage and other expenses. As a business member of Fresno Flats/Sierra Historical Sites Association, any MAM vendor is covered by the association’s insurance. Spaces may be reserved up to one year in advance.
Their present space in the front yard of the Larimore House accommodates up to six vendors. From there Sandy hopes to expand into the open area around the gazebo, eventually housing at least twenty vendors. In the winter if conditions dictate, two large party tents can be made available. Sandy envisions a village market scene with mix of products each month. Sandy says she needs help with project management of MAM and especially assistance with social media marketing. For further information about Mountain Artisans Market or to volunteer for MAM, contact Sandy at email@example.com.
Both Fresno Flats and Mountain Artisans Market emphasize that this is intended to be a community effort. They welcome volunteers, and they work closely with the Oakhurst Boys and Girls Club, Eastern Madera Recreation and Parks and even the folks at Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, who have shared interests with the historical site.
Asked what the future holds for Fresno Flats, Paul states, “Even though the association has been around for fifty years, much of the community is not aware of us. Our historic structures are not something you can put on a shelf and forget about. They require lots of love. For the park to stick around for a while, it needs to be alive and provide value to the community . . . There is a large influx of new people to the area, and we need to determine what their interests are and respond accordingly. Times are changing and organizations and businesses need to read the tea leaves and be smart about their futures. Our future depends on it. So we are open for business and open to ideas for finding favor in the community. This means fun things like flea markets and festivals as well as activities with substance–lectures, demonstrations and classes.
Contact Fresno Flats about opportunities to participate in the Community Flea Markets or to volunteer with them, at 559/683-6570. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.