Are you an expert on all things Farm Chicks or will this be your first year visiting The Farm Chicks Fair? Either way, I thought it’d be fun for the experts and newbies alike to learn some lesser known facts about Farm Chicks.
2017 is the fifteenth year of The Farm Chicks! It used to be held twice a year, so there have actually been more than fifteen, but in terms of years it’s been fifteen.
I’ve always been passionate about keeping records and memorabilia of every single Farm Chicks. My friend, Tana, who plays in the Spokane Symphony photographed the very first one in my friend Meegan’s barn.
The first Farm Chicks wasn't actually called The Farm Chicks. We named it The Spirit of The Farm Sale because there were several of us and we were all using our own business names. My sister drew the flyer for me and I had shirts embroidered with "The Farm Chicks" for our families to wear. I handpainted all of the road signs.
My friends Lyle and Elaine were at that very first sale and have been at every single one since and are incredibly dear to me. Lyle started off by selling his honey and eventually Elaine began selling her handpainted vintage items. Lyle has since retired from beekeeping and honeymaking, but he and Elaine continue on selling her vintage handpainted wares. You can find them directly behind The Farm Chicks space in the Plaza.
The first Spirit of The Farm Sale was originally going to be held in my friend Craig and Jane's barn, which was just up the road from our house at the time. Because of logistical last minute concerns, we moved it to Meegan's barn. Craig and Jane have since gone on to open their farm to the public for u-pick berries and the very popular Big Barn Brewing Company on GreenBluff. Even though we've moved houses since then, we still consider ourselves neighbors because we're just a quick bike ride away.
The HOWDY sign that greets visitors at every Farm Chicks Fair is a copy of the sign that originally hung in my childhood gypsy wagon home, and eventually in the cabin my dad built for our family. When our home burned down, my dad handpainted me another sign and it hangs in my office to this day.
Pam has been selling her homemade treats at The Farm Chicks since the days when it was held in the grange in Fairfield, which is about 22 miles south of Spokane. Because the grange had a commercial kitchen, she could do all of her baking there and the heavenly scent filled the grange. Early shoppers may smell chocolate and butter and still have flashbacks to those sweet and special early days. My nickname for Pam is Wacky Waco because she's pretty cray, in a super good kind of way. Her booth is named Seven Sisters because she is one of seven sisters. (There's a brother too!) You can find Pam and her highly sought after treats in Bay 1 at the fair.
We used to count toilet paper rolls used at the Fairfield grange as a way of knowing if it was a successful Farm Chicks or not. Luckily we kept going through more and more rolls and eventually moved to the Spokane Fairgrounds and we've moved on to having a full janitorial staff that works the fair (No more mopping flooded grange bathrooms for us!) and I'm proud to employ more than 30 people for each event and we never use event volunteers. I strongly believe in paying people for their work.
I'm pretty sure The Farm Chicks Fair is the only vintage event that offers a nursing lounge. Last year an old friend texted me a picture of her and her baby in the nursing lounge during the show to tell me how much she loved it and I almost cried. I always want moms to feel welcome at Farm Chicks.
Our boys have always been a part of Farm Chicks. In the early days, to keep them occupied, Colin set up a joke booth for them to man. Shoppers could come up and ask for a joke, and the boys would tell them one. If the shopper liked it, they could pay the boys a dollar. They loved it and eventually moved on to other tasks, but it is still near and dear to them. My nieces and nephews, brothers and sister in law work it as well. It's a family affair!
There are a bunch of Spokane area teachers who work the ticket booths and my longtime friend Katy manages the ticketing staff. I met Katy at an engagement encounter we were both attending with our then fiancées and now husbands through our Catholic Church in preparation for our weddings.
We have Porters at the fair who load purchases out to vehicles for a donation. Each time you use their help and donate, the money is going to support military families through the 242 Booster Association. My father-in-law Pete who is a retired Navy Frogman and Air National Guard Chief came up with the idea and helped to bring it to life. He still volunteers as a porter for this charitable cause at Farm Chicks each year.
Our oldest son graduated on Farm Chicks weekend and our second son just missed it last year by one week (thank goodness!) Our third son graduates this year, the weekend AFTER Farm Chicks (hooray!) and fingers crossed our youngest son's graduation next year won't fall on Farm Chicks weekend either. It's such a busy time of year for families with children graduating and for teachers! When we first moved Farm Chicks to the Spokane Fairgrounds, it was the only date they had available for scheduling.
We've had visitors from all corners of the earth: England, Australia, Japan, Italy, and of course, our neighbors to the north, Canada! Where will you be coming from? I look forward to seeing you soon!
You can find all the details on The Farm Chicks Fair here.
Stay-at-home mom, Serena Thompson, dreamed of creating a fun and happy little event to sell her vintage and handmade goods. In 2002, she and some friends held the first event in her neighbor’s barn. The sale became wildly popular and began attracting visitors from across the country and recognition in national magazines. Today the event fills the Spokane County Fairgrounds and features hundreds of creatively and carefully curated spaces filled with vintage and handmade goods. Many describe it as a bucket list event, magical, inspirational, and the best vintage & handmade fair in the country. Serena describes it as the happiest on earth.