Makersfest 2018

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 “Healthy anxiety is the type of anxiety which does not rule your life, but rather stimulates you to perform more and better.”

-15minutes4me.com

Healthy anxiety is precisely what I’ve been feeling leading up to Makersfest. I had the pleasure of interviewing the event’s co-chairs for St. Augustine Social. (The associated article detailing the event in general is copied below.) Eagerness for a repeat positive experience for this third annual event had me energized despite a seriously rainy morning.

Waking up to the soft sounds of rainfall made getting out of bed a slow and calculated process. It was a mind over mattress moment. The hourly forecast said the rain would subside two hours into the event around 1pm.

For me, Makersfest has proven to be an opportunity for sibling bonding with my younger brother. He’s a college student 13 years my junior, and sometimes I still see him as the small child he was not long ago.

As we entered the amphitheater gates this afternoon, a dreamlike atmosphere engulfed us. Under overcast skies and tents heavy with water, dozens of familiar faces meandered the venue. The property acted like a powerful magnet that seemed to draw most of the locals I’ve come to know and befriend over the years. Moments like that remind me how far I’ve come in accepting this picturesque coast as my home after 17 years spent in New York. The community came out in droves to support this cause for the SAPMS (St. Augustine Public Montessori School). One of the first faces I recognized was that of Amy Angellili. We were due to catch up. I’m hoping to enroll in her level 2 improv course sometime next year.

Before long, I caught sight of Rachel Sobenesdesme and gave her a big hug. She was in full mom-mode as her son prepared for a performance on one of the backyard stages. It was 15 minutes til showtime, and she eagerly waited for him to suit up.

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The whirlwind carried us downstairs where Venardos Circus put on plate spinning and juggling acts that called The Greatest Showman to mind.

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The first maker station my brother and I visited was in Nature World. We made hanging and animal terrariums, which later found a home next to a magnetic hourglass that we keep on a “creative table” in our kitchen. It felt grounding to get our hands dirty with soil, succulents, and rocks.

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From there, music seemed to occupy the theme of our experience. We ran into Lu Rubino while he was mixing audio during a friend’s acoustic performance. He has such a calming effect on people and is such a gracious presence.

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Just around the corner from the covered stage where we found Lu were Nolan Baker and Matthew Kirkland of Salt & Pine. If you keep up with my blog, you’re probably starting to grasp why this event felt like a dream in which all the people you know in real life make appearances. Salt & Pine did a performance a few hours before we ran into each other. My brother has heard me discuss them quite a bit, so it was nice to introduce him.

I enjoy experiences that remind us that there is a great deal of common ground among mankind. In line with that, an ingenious work of public art was set up behind the amphitheater’s main stage. The exhibit’s description read,

Help us discover what shapes the people of St. Augustine and all the threads that connect us by taking part in the creation of this public art. To participate, choose one or more of these colored threads to answer the questions above by connecting relevant words together. Through this visual language, you can share your feelings, influences, thoughts, and inspirations, which made you the person that you are today.

Isn’t that beautiful?

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A few steps from the above exhibit stood Dawn Langton of Langton’s Scarves & Sundries. She’s one of my fellow Go Headquarters athletes. She has salvaged garments and fabrics during her travels and thrifting, transforming them into unique scarves. Each garment has a layered story to tell, sometimes involving the thousands of miles they have traveled. Be sure to check her work out at langtonscarves.com .

When I interviewed the co-chairs of Makersfest for St. Augustine Social, Kate Gardiner mentioned the ever popular button making station and the satisfaction that comes from clamping down the button press while customizing designs. The day’s currency were pre-purchased sheets of perforated tickets. My last three were spent on customized buttons/pins: one of an observatory under a waxing moon, one of a mountainscape with fall foliage in the foreground, and one of an old military barracks here in St. Augustine. I think I’ll interchangeably pin them to the satchel I can’t seem to part with regardless of where I’m going.

Between that satchel, my Patagonia shirt, and Birkenstock’s...I’d say my transformation into a Canadian soccer dad is almost complete, lol. Did I mention I drive a Subaru?

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What follows appeared in St. Augustine Social’s Dec/Jan Issue:

Do you know someone with a side hustle? These days, more and more of us need them just to keep up with basic expenses. For St. Augustinians at large, these supplemental income streams are born of artistic passion and a love of handiwork.

Our city has no shortage of artisans with a knack for fashioning hand-made products characterized by their charming character. These are some of the folks Kate Gardiner and Stephanie Massey had in mind when they decided to shine a light on the "makers" movement that has swept the cultural scene. Kate and Stephanie are co-chairs of this year's Makers Fest, which will be held on December 9th. When the event was introduced in 2016, it was an innovative way to raise funds for the St. Augustine Public Montessori School. Anyone can throw together a bake sale, but organizers sought to engage in a“celebration of community and artisan making,” as Kate puts it. Makers Fest is one of the only event of its kind and scope happening in northeast Florida.

Attendees will be in for an experience in line with the Montessori method, which was developed by Maria Montessori – one of Italy's first female physicians. She proved that children contending with severe ailments could learn and thrive educationally when taught using techniques that foster practical skill development and hands-on activities. “It’s all learning through doing, using your hands...You learn to take care of yourself, the environment, your friends,” explains school director Ann Johnson, affectionately known as “Miss J.”

Makers Fest will encourage families to enjoy the outdoors without breaking the bank. This year's scheduled activities generally cost no more than ten dollars each. The St. Augustine Amphitheatre will host the festival, which will be divided into three "worlds" – textile, paper, and nature. And all ages will be kept in mind. Adults can do specialized workshops at "tall tables" while the little ones make buttons and stay well fed with the help of vendors like Pita Pocket and Mayday Ice-Cream. Registering for workshops in advance will help you get the most out of the day. At them, you'll have a chance to make some time-tested favorites like beeswax food covers, pebble dominoes, and embroidered notebooks. Prepare to have childhood memories rekindled as you break out glue, glitter, paint, and the like. You might even come away with a renewed zest for a craft you didn't know you had an aptitude for. Of course, this festival wouldn’t be complete without live music. So local favorites like Amy Hendrickson, Salt & Pine, Katy Schirard, Kensley Stewart, The Bridge Street Vibe, and Chemtrails are scheduled to take the stage.

The Fest is a celebration of local artistic passion. Bringing together artisans and craftsmen with the locals that love them, St. Augustinians can step out in December and join in the creative fervor that's sweeping the city.

See you on the 9th!