Student artists explore Red Barn as vendors

After spending countless hours working on her collages and artwork over the summer, senior Morgan White arrived at The Square Saturday at 6:30 a.m. to set up her booth alongside other artists. There were displays, tents and tables as far as the eye could see, all selling and presenting their unique wares, artwork and food while a band played music just a few blocks over. This event was the Red Barn Arts and Crafts Festival hosted by the Kirksville Art Association. 

The Red Barn Festival began in 1974 with a small gathering of like-minded artists wanting to share their craft. Now it is an annual tradition that the families of Kirksville and Truman State University look forward to. It occurred from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 with all sorts of vendors, like White, to speak with. 

White said the festival gave her the chance to share her crafts tangibly with the rest of the community rather than posting them online. She said many artists post their creations online, but it feels disconnected since they are throwing something they created into the void of the internet. She said it’s encouraging for her passion to be validated and encouraged by the people walking by and stopping to view her art. 

“I feel like I’m inspiring a young version of myself when I talk to younger people looking at my art,” White said. “It is definitely a lot of work, but it is worth it since so many come to see what’s going on.”

When White was younger, she said others tried to convince her that art wasn’t a viable career path, but she continued to enjoy her art classes more than the others. Her desire to make people laugh is shown in most, if not every, piece of art she has made. 

People from all walks of life come together at the Red Barn Festival to share their talents and express their personalities, like the Fibers Club, an unofficial university organization, who decided to participate in the festival at the last minute. 

Fibers Club member Halle Workman was in a similar boat as White. Workman said people have told her that art won’t make her money, but she thinks it will bring her the most happiness which, she said, is far more important. The festival was another way to explore her options and look at what others practiced in art.

“I think Red Barn brings a lot of diversity, and it also brings a lot of new, physical ideas instead of getting them from your phone,” Workman said. “Bringing actual artwork to an area, for example, something you don’t normally see, is really cool. It’s good for students and art lovers since there aren’t a lot of galleries around the city.”

Vendors were required to fill out an online application, which they found on the Kirksville Art Association website. The application was free for student organizations. Generally, student booths could be found near the courthouse under the trees. Fibers Club member Maggie Adams said the original reason for their joining was to earn enough money to go to the Fibers Club conference in St. Louis, so the free entry helped out. 

Adams said the toughest part of being a vendor came with the business side of things. Pricing and tagging art for any specific value is very difficult, and it taught many artists what goods would be best to sell at specific venues. It also taught the vendors a lot about customer relations because engaging with customers helps sell more product. Adams said it was great being able to talk with so many people about what the organization made and finding people with similar interests. 

Through rain or shine the celebrations went on and at the end of the day another successful Red Barn Festival was finished.