A popular vintage fair is hoping to use its growing popularity to help fight community hunger at a time when schoolchildren are home and in need of extra sustenance.
Barnstormer’s Vintage Fair will kick off its sixth year this weekend, and organizers hope to fill a box truck with food donations for the Table Rock Fellowship food pantry. Hours will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission Friday is $10. Saturday’s admission is $7 — $5 with a food donation.
The event, founded in 2012 by mother-daughter duo Lindsay McPhail and Cindy Conner, offers an array of vintage, antique and handmade wares, coupled with food trucks, entertainment and other activities.
McPhail and Conner founded the event near their family’s Coker Butte Farm but outgrew the venue and moved to The Expo last year.
Conner said the event always has offered a $2 discount for attendees who bring a food item for the local pantry. With both attendance and food stores increasing each year, Conner said a challenge was in order.
“The community has shown so much support, and what we really wanted to focus on this year was to try and break all of our past canned-food donation records and ask the community to really step up,” Conner said.
While a donation of one food item earns a $2 discount Saturday, bags of donations “would be great, too,” Conner said.
“It’s about helping the food pantry, because they do such an amazing job," she said. "They feed 300 to 400 families a month, and they don’t restrict who can get food. If they need food, people get food. We just love them.”
In the vintage fair's first year, they sought to fill several large boxes with food but ended up filling an entire pickup truck, Conner said. Last year’s donations filled up most of a large box truck.
Celia Ashby, who co-facilitates the food pantry with her husband, Mike Ashby, said the vintage fair donation keeps families going each summer at a time when kids are out of school and in need of extra snacks.
The facility runs on volunteers and donations only, she said.
Ashby said it was “tough to measure” the annual donations, other than to note they’d grown substantially each year.
“We have a box truck that was almost filled last year," Ashby said. "It wouldn’t surprise me if it was close to a ton of food. If we could get that filled, it would beat last year and put us way over the top.
“It would be really, really cool to have to bring an extra vehicle down to pick it all up. It’s just very heartwarming, and it’s energizing to us to be able to get that extra food in for people."
Conner said community support of the fair and being able to “pay it forward” was a rewarding feeling for her group of friends and family who help put on the event.
“Standing here at the Jackson County Expo, I look around and think to myself, ‘Wow, this started with 23 people in our little barnyard.' It’s pretty fun to see what it’s grown into.”
Conner promised plenty of air flow despite soaring temperatures.
“We know it’s going to be hot, but we’ve got lots of fans going, and it’s really not horrible in here at all,” she said. “I don’t think most people will even be thinking about the heat once they start shopping.”
On the web, see www.facebook.com/events/678791592297961/.
— Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at firstname.lastname@example.org.