The two-day event — officially the Little Chicago Downtown Music and Arts Festival — kicked off Friday with scattered showers, live music, food and booths filled with merchandise.
Little Chicago draws to a close Saturday, though, so here’s a glance at some booths you might want to check out while there’s time:
Ellie’s Juice Box
Melissa Brenard wanted to find snacks her for toddler Ellie that didn’t contain all of the sugars many brands contain. To solve her problem, she mixed together all of her and Ellie’s favorite fruits and flavors to create what is now Ellie’s Juice Box. Brenard makes all sorts of “delicious and nutritious” flavors in juices, teas, and smoothies.
WalkAbout Sally: The Shop for Your Life’s Journey
Described as the New World or “hippie” vibe, owner Sally Bissen said it’s like a journey when walking through the store. There are many international clothes and other homemade accessories representing cultures from around the world. “We try to have unique and eclectic things,” Bissen said. WalkAbout Sally not only has a booth, but there’s also a clothing rack inside a truck, along with a dressing room.
Basking in the Light: Like Natural Music Any Way She Moves
When Emily White had her first child, she fell in love with the purses she found designed in Thailand. She thought they were practical and beautiful, so she decided to share what she found with the world. From bags to purses, she has it all. Colorful and unique, these little gifts were something she adores. “It gives all these women jobs (in Thailand) while it expresses their art form,” said White.
What do you do with too much goat milk? You make soap! Steven and Cynthia Howd run their own goat farm, and after finding she had too much milk, Cynthia decided to pick up soap-making. Her favorite is the honeysuckle calendula, while her husband’s is tobacco road. For Cynthia, making her soaps is “super relaxing.” She said, “I love the creative process and seeing what scent goes with what. It’s my happy place.”
After a trip to Cambodia, Jeremy Temple and his fiancee Susanna found the spot they were looking for to set up their shop. Inspired by a local woman who carried around countless bags and trash she picked up off the streets of her community, they decided to follow her lead. Now they run their own business, selling recycled trash bags made into personally designed bags. In their spare time, the two spend two to three months every year in Cambodia, where they create their durable merchandise and teach English. “We want to give back to the (Cambodian) community,” Temple said.
Finding a great chip dip for their snacks was hard to find in the stores, so Bonnie and Phil Hopkins made their own. “No salt, no sugars,” Bonnie said. The dips ranged from sweet to extremely spicy, with more than 15 different flavors available. Bonnie’s favorite is tomato basil, and her husband’s is the bacon horseradish, which she said goes great on sandwiches. The Hopkins even have dehydrated herbs for an easy dip mix at home.
John Diaz and Donna Diaz
Though they’re married, they can’t be labeled under the same booth! John runs his own booth with 100-percent leather materials, from belts to handbags, gun holsters and keychains. With just a hammer and a stylus, John can make the plainest belt the most intricate. He learned the craft in high school, and then some 50 years later, he picked up the art again. “I do this because I love it; it’s my hobby,” John said.
On the other hand, Donna picked up crocheting as a form of therapy. After she became ill a few years ago, her doctor recommended Donna find a hobby that could occupy her body and mind. Once she started though, she never stopped. Donna creates an assortment of scarves, hats and baby clothes, but she also crotchets her favorites — animals. She picked up the animal crafts only three months ago, but her style looks like she’s been working on it for years. The animals range from cute giraffes and pandas to unicorns and dragons. “I’m really having a blast doing these toys,” Donna said. “I think I was blessed with a gift.”