Sep 18, 2022

🎙 Upcoming craft fair supports Ellis Co. cancer nonprofit

Posted Sep 18, 2022 11:01 AM

Hays Post

Next month, over 100 craft vendors will fill Gross Memorial Coliseum on the Fort Hays State University campus, allowing residents to view and purchase various homemade items from across the region.

The Your Voice Through Cancer craft fair is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 1. The event is free and open to the public and will feature vendors young and old from across the Midwest.

“It is all handmade crafts. There are no direct sales,” said Your Voice Through Cancer event coordinator Amanda Long. “We actually have three kid booths this year, so kids are also attending to sell their crafts and then three food vendors will have two food trucks outside and a food caterer inside.”

For the event, vendors will travel from far and wide.

“They're from all over the place,” said Your Voice Through Cancer event coordinator Kate Armstrong. “We've got vendors from all over Kansas. I think we have one from Colorado and one from Nebraska. And I think one from Oklahoma. We're kind of pulling from all over the place.”

Over 100 vendors will attend this year’s event marking a significant increase from last year’s event, with 67 vendors.

“We're up quite a bit from that,” Long said. “We did move to a new location to accommodate more vendors just for that reason. We want to make a great show for Hays and surrounding communities to come and do some early Christmas shopping and see what local artists have to offer.”

Thanks to the growing number of vendors, this year’s event will also feature a more extensive variety of items than ever before.

“We have everything from pour painting, wood crafts, quilting, horseshoe art and candles,” Long said.

“Tumblers, T-shirts, little knickknacks," Armstrong added.

“Just about anything that you can imagine, you're going to find it at our craft fair,” Long said.

While this year’s craft fair will mark the first appearance for many vendors, Stegman said some had made it an annual tradition since the first event in 2014.

“Some of the vendors that we have are regulars,” she said. “It's nice that we have repeats, but we've picked up a lot of new ones because we went up 40 vendors from last year. “Anything you can think, that is going to probably be at this fair. It's amazing to see what they can do.”

Along with the craft, fair food vendors will be on site.

“Our indoor caterer is going to have breakfast served,” Long said. “You can come for breakfast and lunch with all three vendors. So yeah, come spend the whole day with us if you want.”

With the over 100 vendors, the coliseum will be nearly full on both the upper and lower level with booths, but a few spots remain.

“If it is something that you are interested in, make sure you get that in as soon as possible,” Armstrong said. “Once we're full, we'll have to start a waiting list at that point because they're just there's just no more room at that point.”

While the craft fair will bring out scores of people searching for one-of-a-kind items, behind the event is an effort to bring support to those dealing with one of the most traumatic medical diagnosis people face — cancer.

“The craft fair came about as we were trying to figure out a way to do fundraisers, and we got to thinking that there isn't really a craft fair round here that is just crafts,” said Judy Stegman, Your Voice Through Cancer co-founder and president.

And the annual event has grown substantially since beginning in 2014.

“We started out in the basement of a church with 14 vendors,” Stegman said. “We've grown quite a bit. We're very popular with this because it is nothing but handmade crafts.”

But most importantly, she said it is an easy way for every to get involved and help the organization’s mission.

Photo courtesy Pixabay
Photo courtesy Pixabay

“We have survivors that come up and talk to us, families that come up and talk to us and see what we can do,” Stegman said. “It's just a great way to get the public involved.”

As an organization, Your Voice Through Cancer works to raise funds for those afflicted and their loved ones.

“We want to make sure everybody that needs treatment gets treatment,” Stegman said. “And cancer is expensive. It's very expensive between them. We have a lot of patients that go to Kansas City, they need money for gas, or they need money for a motel. And we're just here to help out as much as we can.”

For those without medical insurance or a support system, she said it could be even more challenging to cope, and the organization does everything possible to help.

“One of the things that I do once in a while is go and sit through chemo with them,” Stegman said. “A lot of people have to be dropped off, and they have to do it. And you know, your first time for chemo, you don't know how you're going to react. And it's scary being in that room with just nurses and doctors. So I'll go and sit with him and explain to him how it goes and explain to the family, you know, how it's going to go and what support is for and you know, the different things through the chemo and stuff.”

“Alongside of the cancer support, we also offer family support,” Long said. “It's definitely very hard for the family too. So we want to be there for the family to support them and walk them through the situation as well.”

“As a person whose mother-in-law just went through that. I myself needed support to make it through that,” Armstrong said. “It's difficult for everybody. Cancer affects all of us in some way, shape, or form. So we're just trying to be there to be the support when you may not have it.”

“If somebody calls me and they want to meet with me, I'll sit down and talk to you,” Stegman said. “I am a cancer survivor, so I know what it's like to have to go through cancer. …We're just mainly here to help out as many cancer patients as we can.”