Monday, July 25, 2011

It's time for the Denver County Fair!

First Denver County Fair offers Ingenious Entertainment Line-up
The first-ever Denver County Fair is doing things a bit different than other county fairs. Okay ... a lot different. The whole thing is indoors, in 10 adjoining pavilions - each with its own theme. Each Pavilion has it's own theme-appropriate blue ribbon competitions, local exhibitors and vendors and a stage for entertainment, judging and demos. Pavilion themes range from the traditional (Craft Pavilion, Kitchen Pavilion, Animal Pavilion) to the unique-to-this-fair areas, like the Holistic Pavilion, the Fashion Pavilion, the Green Pavilion and the Freak Show.
That's different enough.
But organizers Dana Cain and Tracy Weil wanted to be SURE that the first Denver County Fair reflects the 21st century urban culture and creativity that Denver is known for. To that end, they have devised an entertainment lineup that will surely be the envy of all other fairs within a 500-mile radius.
"We wanted to keep a nice dose of the traditional county fair feel," says Cain, "but we knew that it was crucial to mix it up with some modern quirky urban elements. And, above all ... we want to celebrate DENVER and its arts and culture."
In addition to the fair's rustic 100-year-old Stadium Arena, there are six Pavilion stages sprinkled throughout the complex, hosting events ranging from trick pigs to DEVO to an 1800s Fashion show to demos on psychic pet communication. Oh yes, and a Grand Opening sing-along of "Rocky Mountain High," complete with John Denver impersonator.
To celebrate Denver's rich cultural history, Weil and Cain have lured three local legends out of retirement to come participate. Famous concert promoter Barry Fey joined the team in May as the Musical Director. Blinky the Clown, beloved children's show host for 40 years is scheduled to be the guest of honor at the fair's "Blinky's Fun Club Reunion" on Saturday. And last week, fair organizers tracked down the KIMN Chicken, mascot of the popular radio station that closed its doors in 1988. His job - hosting the blue ribbon chicken judging on Sunday.
It's going to be a County Fair like no other.
Event Highlights ( all events are included with fair admission, except where noted.)
4 - 6 pm: Grand Opening VIP Preview Gala. Join the mayor, the media and a few hundred of Denver's most avid cultural supporters at this special 2-hour preview, complete with free drinks, VIP lounge and giveaways. Tickets to this VIP event are $40.
7 - 7:45pm: John Denver Tribute Concert and Rocky Mountain High Sing-Along
7 - 8:30pm - Bike Rodeo, hosted by Yellow Designs Stunt Team. Here in the city, we do our rodeo on bikes and skateboards instead of horses and cows!
7pm and 9pm - Top Hogs - Trick Pig Act!
8pm - Cheeseburger Eating Contest! Competitive Eating is the fastest-growing sport in America! Show up to enter!
**Amy's Note: I think flat-track roller derby is the fastest growing sport in a America. Oh, hell, they are being hyperbolic. I will let this one go.**
10 am - 4pm - Judging in most of the Blue Ribbon competition categories happens on Friday morning and afternoon. Over 1000 entries were received in dozens of categories by the July 18 deadline. Walk-ins will also be accepted on Wednesday, July 27th, 3 - 7 pm.
1 - 4:30 pm - Groove Hawgs and School of Rock perform live! Lewis and Floorwax's popular Blues Band takes the stage at 2:30, after the Denver School of Rock at 1pm. The kids' music educational program that inspired the movie! Tickets are $5 and $1 goes to benefit the School of Rock!
6 - 6:45 pm - Charles Phoenix Test Kitchen Demo: Fried Cereal
7 - 9pm - Denver Area Square Dancers. Watch the demo and then join in the fun!
8 - 8:30 - Miss County Fair Drag Queen contest, sponsored by Outfront!
8:45 - 9:30 - Itchy-O Marching Band performs throughout several pavilions!
10am - 12 pm - Andrew Novick X-Treme Pancake Breakfast - Over 50 toppings, from gummi-worms to crab meat, 10 kinds of butter and more! (Tickets $6).
12 - 1:15 pm - Blinky's Fun Club Reunion! Join Blinky the Clown, longest-running children's show host of all time in the whole world! Blinky's Fun Club aired from 1958 - 1998! If you were on the show - or if you just love Blinky, show up and enjoy the memories, with open mike, slide show, autographs and more.
2 - 3pm - Denver Zoo presents Wild Wonders - Live animal show!
2 - 4pm - Cheeseburger Crown Cook-Off, hosted by KOSI's Murphy & Denise! Contestants compete to make the best cheeseburger - live on stage. Cheeseburgers were invented in DENVER!
12 and 6 pm - Pie Eating Contest, hosted by Village Inn.
3pm - Human Chicken Contest - Best chicken impressions will be judged by Colorado Poultry Society.
4pm - Hey Lady! B-52s Tribute Band.
5pm - Charles Phoenix Text Kitchen Demo: Mr. Meatloaf.
7pm - Best Moustache & Beard Contest
8pm - DEVO performs live in the Stadium Arena! (Tickets $25/$30)
11am - 4pm - Channel 93.3's Local Music Stage, featuring local bands all day in the Stadium Arena
11am - 3 pm - Fancy Tiger hosts Speed Knitting, Speed Crocheting, Live Sewing Competition & more.
1pm - "Bounty" agriculture-themed poetry contest readings
1pm - Chicken judging, hosted by the KIMN Chicken (lured from retirement!)
2pm - Speed Texting competition
3pm - Laughter Yoga demo
The complete Denver County Fair schedule, which contains over 150 events, is online at
The Denver County Fair launches July 28 – 31, 2011 at the National Western Complex, I-70 at Brighton Blvd., just east of I-25. The Fair will include nearly 300,000 sq ft of adjoining indoor areas, including the Animal Pavilion, Kitchen Pavilion, Holistic Pavilion, Art Pavilion, Craft Pavilion, Fashion Pavilion, Green Pavilion, Backyard Farm and Garden Pavilion, 4-H Youth Pavilion, and more. An outdoor Carnival and an old school Freak Show help round out the fun. Colorado residents are encouraged to participate in the fair and enter to win blue ribbons and prizes in dozens of categories. Information and online competition entry forms are at .
Denver County Fair hours, July 28- 31, are Thursday 6 - 10pm; Friday 10am-10pm; Saturday 10am-10pm and Sunday 10am-4pm. Tickets are for sale now at and will also be available at the door. Adult tickets are $10/day and Youth tickets are $5/day. Children under age 5 get in FREE. Weekend passes and group tickets are also available. (Fair admission prices do not include DEVO concert admission, which must be purchased separately.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Featured Crafter: Doree Klassen of Pink Quartz Minerals

This week's featured crafter is dear to my heart, and my face, as she is the person who makes my makeup: Doree Klassen. Her brand is Pink Quartz Minerals, and I think everyone should experience the quality of her products. She's got a website, and a presence on Artfire and Etsy. She's all up in the Internet's grill. (Something for us to consider?)

Do you sell online exclusively? In person, at shows?

I sell about 80% online, about 15% wholesale accounts to salons, spas and makeup artists and about 5% around my area. I've done a few craft shows but makeup doesn't seem to sell well at them. I'm still trying to figure out what sales to do- fairs or craft shows or more like bridal shows and such. Any input is appreciated!

What was the impulse to start your business?

I tried Bare Escentuals and it made my skin break out. I loved the ease of application and the idea of natural makeup, so bought a bunch of different minerals and experimented until I made a foundation that worked for my skin without using bismuth oxychloride, which was the culprit. My friends and family started asking what I was using and wanted makeup made for them, and eventually I turned it into a business.

What is your niche? What sets you apart?

My niche is that I only use 7 mineral ingredients in all my powdered makeup, and that I will make custom foundation blends at no additional charge. I like having the fewest ingredients possible because it lowers the chance of any reaction. I also do not use any organic materials that could break down so as long as my makeup is kept dry it will never "go bad". The custom blends are something I felt was needed as large companies will not do it, and I myself never found a perfect foundation match until I made it for myself, so I empathize with others that can't find a match.

Which materials/colors/techniques interest you the most right now? What is inspiring you, creatively?

Right now I'm debating packaging changes. I love my makeup but really want to put it into special packaging. It's hard to find something different that will actually work in the real world! Aside from that, I still love to sit and putter and mix and create new shades with little surprises. I do have a bunch of shades I haven't put online yet as I'd like some new models with various eye colors to photograph, or customers to send me photos. (hint hint) [Amy's note: Oh, good lard. Now I have to put on makeup in the summer.]

What piece of advice do you wish you had, when starting your business?

Oh boy, I'd have to say I wish I had someone standing over me forcing me to keep meticulous records of every recipe (I've misplaced some over the years) and also forced me to keep up on the bookwork/paperwork. Come tax time I spend way too much time sorting and organizing records, and every year I say I will keep up on it, then somehow I don't. :)

What question would you like to ask our readers?

I would love to know how you like to purchase makeup. Would you like starter kits, or other kits and what would you like in them? What would you like to see? What would be super helpful for you when choosing makeup online?

Where can we find you?




Best. Makeup. Ever. People. Go get some.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Small Business Tip of the Week: Just Keep Swimming

Sometimes you have too much on your plate, and don't know how to prioritize. Pick one thing, and do it. Pick the biggest thing.

Sometimes it seems you don't have enough to do--you're bored for some reason. That's when you go to your "someday" list, and do one thing. (Need a Someday list? Try Teux Deux.)

Sometimes you just can't take it anymore, and if one more person calls, emails, texts, or otherwise communicates with you about something needing to be done, you are going to blow a gasket. That's when you literally go swimming. In a pool. Go find one now.

Whatever you do, just keep swimming.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Small Business Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week: talk to everyone. Everyone!

Let every person with whom you regularly interact know about your products, your business, your ideas. Let them know your dreams for the future. Let them know your plans for taking your business to the next level.

Even if they aren't interested, someone will remember and will tell another person who is interested.


To wit: I was talking to a roller derby friend who has a derby supply business. I was talking about my publishing business, not soap, but that doesn't matter. One thing led to another, and I am starting talks with him about making private label soaps. LOTS of soaps. Big orders. But they aren't big for him--they are standard for him. He's big time, I'm not. But he wants to work with me.


Friday, July 08, 2011

Featured Crafter: Melissa Lopez of Whimsypics

Please welcome Melissa Lopez from Whimsypics, today's featured crafter.

How do you find out about craft fairs in your area? Do you belong to a crafter's alliance? Do you do all your own research?

I find out about local craft shows and fairs mostly from my local Etsy team – NC Triangle Street Team. I joined when I first started on Etsy and they have been an invaluable source of information. Occasionally, I browse the arts & crafts section on my local Craigslist site to find local shows and consignment/wholesale opportunities.

What was the impulse to start your business?

I fell in love with paper crafting/scrapbooking when my son was born prematurely and I started making little books recording his progress. He stayed in the hospital for about 2 months after I went home and decided I would take pictures every single day and record every little thing because I wasn’t sure how long he would be with us. Fast forward 7 years and this hobby-turned-passion has evolved to include all forms of paper crafts, and my son is my perfect, healthy miracle.

What is your niche? What sets you apart? Why did you choose that niche?

My work is mostly one-of-a-kind and custom journals/scrapbooks. I still work on some other paper crafts that I can easily duplicate (gift tags, cards, etc) but scrapbooks and altered art is my passion. I think it’s so important to have a record not just of important events, but the everyday ‘boring’ stuff too. I would give anything to have some sort of journal from my grandmothers or great-grandmothers where I could have a glimpse into what their life was like, what they thought about, what they loved.

Which materials/colors/techniques interest you the most right now? What is inspiring you, creatively?

Well, mostly I use paper :) but I love to incorporate beautiful trims, ribbons and sometimes fabric, too. I also use bulky embellishments because flat is boring!

What piece of advice do you wish you had, when starting your business?

I wish I had realized how much work there is to do outside of creating! The fun stuff is just a tiny part of owning a business. Promoting, branding, networking, paying taxes, learning – that’s not so fun. But it is completely necessary.

Where can we find you online?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Featured Crafter: Me.

I have run out of crafters to feature for right now, so today's featured crafter is me! I am Amy Kalinchuk, of Olde Crone's Bewitching Bath Soap. I guess I'll answer all the same questions that I ask others, huh?

How do you find out about craft fairs in your area? Do you belong to a crafter's alliance? Do you do all your own research? Do you sell online exclusively?

I find out about craft fairs by keeping my ears open and bookmarking things for the future. I see what shows others are going to, and in the winter, I research them and mark my calendar to ding me on the day that I need to apply for the shows I want to do. I do belong to the Denver Handmade Alliance, and that helps--they know about all the shows in my area.

My online shop is I sell at my local farmer's market every Sunday, June through October. This year I decided to move around on Saturdays, so I've been doing more craft fairs: Firefly Market in Boulder, Horseshoe Craft and Flea in Denver, The French Nest Open Air Market in Fort Collins. I am very excited to sponsor the handmade soap competition at the first annual Denver County Fair this year, as well, at the end of July.

What was the impulse to start your business?

We needed money! My husband was staying home with our infant daughter, and we could not make ends meet every month. I had begun making soap, and had been giving it away and "selling" it for money just to cover supplies. I decided to ramp that up and see if I could make it. This is my seventh year selling soap. Since the beginning I've been to several different farmer's markets, have done craft fairs, had a website set up, hired my husband, and we now do some private label accounts, as well.

What is your niche? What sets you apart?

My products contain no artificial fragrances or colors. I use essential oils only for scent. My customers appreciate the practical nature of my products, as well as their performance. They are high-quality products handmade by a local crafter, and my customers appreciate that and keep coming back.

Aside from that, I think it is important for crafters to remember that many people who buy from you are buying from YOU. You are kind and generous and warm-hearted and witty--your personality helps to sell your stuff. Work it!

What piece of advice do you wish you had, when starting your business?

I wish I knew what "private label" meant, from the start. I think I could have made my business bigger, faster, if I had been seeking out private label clients for the past seven years. It is so much easier to make soap/lotion/lip balm/whatever, and ship it out the door. Packing a car, setting up a tent, selling for hours, tearing down, packing the car, driving home, and unloading the car is a lot of work! It's good for business, so I still do it. However, private label business is for larger orders at a lower price, but for about 1/4 the work. The math still adds up in my favor.

What question would you like to ask our readers?

What do you find most valuable about this blog? What topics would you like to discuss? Also, who are your favorite crafters? My queue is about used up and I need more folks to feature.