Dome to host 250 exhibitors at Arts & Crafts show


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UNI alumni Tom Callahan is the proud show promoter of the UNI Dome Arts and Crafts Show coming to campus for its 25th year on Saturday and Sunday.

Callahan was the creator of the show when it kicked off for the first time in 1991.

“I graduated from UNI in 1976 and I was there when they built the Dome,” said Callahan. Callahan recounted being at a similar vendor event.

“I remember thinking if I could move this show to the UNI [campus] I could get a lot of exhibitors,” said Callahan.

Building from the ground up, Callahan found exhibitors at various other “arts and crafts” shows across Iowa. In that first year at the UNI Dome, Callahan says 16,000 people were in attendance.

“It has been a very popular show,” said Callahan. “People come from quite a ways to buy and attend.”

Besides the UNI Dome Arts and Crafts show, Callahan has worked as a show promoter at multiple other Iowa craft fairs including the Des Moines Fairgrounds.

Senior elementary and middle level education double major Lisa O’Neal saw the show advertised at the State Fair. O’Neal hopes to be able to attend the upcoming show as well but cites time constraints as one of the big things holding her back.

The same sentiment holds true for freshman biology major, Katie Staff.

“I think the multiple vendors craft show type stuff can be really fun,” said Staff.

With over 250 exhibitors in attendance, Callahan said he didn’t know of any current UNI students participating.

“They could if there were any students who had enough time,” said Callahan.

Taking part in these exhibition shows often means the vendors need to be able to buy their materials in bulk and have lots of space to build their products, according to Callahan. He doesn’t think most UNI students have the time, space or purchasing capital to invest in such large projects like oak furniture, metal art sculptures or yard art.

Senior graphic design majors Cecelia Hotzler and Janey Graveman both have experience in the area of crafting and selling their own homemade products via the website Etsy.

“I did paper portraits […] a lot of paintings and stuff,” said Graveman. Graveman has since let go of her Etsy account and isn’t sure if she will pick it up again graduation.

Hotzler has her Etsy account closed during the school year.

“Sometimes I open it around the holidays to earn a little extra money,” said Hotzler. “My best selling thing is a tooth ornament.”

Hotzler had not heard about the upcoming show. “I’ve been to a few and then I follow on social media the Renegade Craft fair,” said Hotzler. “So hopefully, when I graduate I can take some time and at least visit those and get an idea of things that people sell and how they display it and personal marketing.”

Callahan said this show would be a great opportunity for students in similar fields of study to learn about entrepreneurship in action. In hopes of bringing in more UNI students, Callahan is running an ad from the Northern Iowan that allows those with a current student ID to four dollars discounted from their admission.

“It sounds like a good idea to me because I don’t think that if it was more expensive, that college students would go at all,” said Staff.

For students like Graveman the possibilities that show like this open up are endless.

“School’s important and having structured assignments is important, but it’s also important just to be able to do what you want to do,” said Graveman.

“I feel like handmade stuff is more special,” Gravman said. “The people making them pay attention to the smaller details so you in a sense get a better quality.”

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