Feature Friday: The Craftskills 2015


 

Compas Life Craftskills

This past weekend we had the pleasure of visiting the Catskill region and spending two days vending at the Craftskills artisan market in the town of Bovina, New York. We spent two days meeting people and sharing our new brand. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to really get out there and connect with the world. It was a picturesque November weekend with a slight chill in the air, lots of sunshine and the final remnants of the fall foliage still poking through the hills.

It was a great experience getting out there and talking to people about our newly launched brand. We shared our story and our plans for the future. We got to connect with a lot of people who share the same active mentality and really enjoy getting out there and living life.

The reason we chose to vend at this particular market is because a lot of time and detail went into developing and curating this fair. The (4th Annual) Craftskills has evolved into a wonderful market over the past few years that emphasizes local art and local products from a multitude of different artisans and vendors. All of the vendors present spent many hours creating their own products and developing their own companies. As we like to say at Compas, we met a lot of the vendors that truly seem to “Live the Compas Life.” 

We only had limited time to walk around and chat with the other vendors, but some of the vendor highlights included  beautiful hand made pottery from Little Delaware Pottery , Dermisted beetle taxidermy (flesh eating beetles that clean animal skulls!), a duo who makes wooden sculptures developed from the scrap wood of baseball bats and even a very young man who makes and creates his own characters out of clay (a true artistic entrepreneur!). It was really special to see everyone's collection under one roof.

Craftskills Compas Life Art

Luckily we had a few moments to sit down with the Craftskills founder and chat about his passion project and how it has developed over the last 4 years. John Virga of Bovina, NY is the founder and brainchild behind the Catskills art fair. John is a creator, woodworker, designer, sculptor and all around great guy. He is also the man behind Bovina Brown Bats.

John Virga Compas Life

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Luckily John was able to answer a few questions for our blog during his busy weekend:

 
  • What is the "Craftskills"?
A craft fair slash farmers' market event that showcases local talent including arts, food, & music. Born in the town of Bovina nestled among the Catskill Mountains, The Craftskills is a combination of everything local, handmade, earth healthy, & inspired by nature. 
 
  • Why did you start this event?
To give our local cottage industries a venue to share their work & ideas with others in the community & passers by. This is the exact opposite shopping experience to Walmart. This event is part of an idea to create awareness of local sustainability, provide an example for a more environmentally responsible way of life, & promote the amazing talent & high quality products that our local region has to offer. 
 
Also, the Bovina Center Community Hall is basically across the street from my house & there wasn't a craft fair in sight, I felt like I had to do something... 
 
  • Who is involved with the Craftskills?
Local artisans, farmers, & musicians present their products & talent. The event comes together with the help of friends & family of the Craftskills passion project -- people who volunteer time & creative energy into providing a collaborative & nurturing atmosphere for the event & ideas behind it to grow. 
 
  • What is so special about Bovina & what influenced you to do this?
Bovina is magically bucolic, & you can't help but have a romantic relationship with the natural surroundings when you live here. That also includes a relationship with the local culture & shift of the seasons. The Craftskills is a place for all of that to come together at once, in one location. Otherwise, these things are scattered throughout the hills.
 I am also influenced by what I refer to as, my "hummingbird story", which relates to ancient Chinese & African proverbs. Basically the moral of the story is even if you're small or weak alone, you are strong & large together with collective support. That, combined with the nostalgia of growing up around Catskill craft fairs & wanting to recreate the magic I remember for future generations of Catskill culture.
 
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John has truly developed something special in the hills of Bovina. It seems too perfect that we had the opportunity to have our first true retail venture in his market. John is creating an atmosphere for people to create, share, enjoy and sell their products. He created this market out of nothing but ambition to make something happen. If that doesn’t embody our mantra, I don’t know what does!