One of South Florida’s most beloved marketplaces, for local artisans and shoppers alike, is set to return Sunday for the first time in a year. February 2020 marked the last Indie Craft Bazaar (ICB), the typically bimonthly, three-venue extravaganza headquartered at Revolution Live in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Like the nearly 100 vendors who participate in this event, founders Amanda Weiner and Chris Gaidry have waited out the long COVID spring, COVID summer, COVID fall and COVID winner, taking a hit to their pocketbooks in the name of public health.
Now, though, with vaccine distribution amping up and an increasing number of entertainment venues reopening, Weiner and Gaidry have decided to re-launch Indie Craft Bazaar, albeit in a “mini” form, on Feb. 28. Instead of filling Revolution Live (which remains closed) and its surrounding venues, this time the entire event will take place under the covered open air of the adjoining Backyard space, formerly America’s Backyard.
“I think it was reading the zeitgeist,” Gaidry said, about the decision to bring ICB back. “Some other events are starting to come back online. The cities are showing a little bit more inclination to get things going again. … Things are starting to move in the right direction. I would say, not that I’m a clairvoyant or have a crystal ball, but probably by the middle of this year, we’re going to start having some bigger events come back online.”
Unlike the traditional ICB, in which vendors are positioned fairly tightly on the Revolution dance floor and stage, sellers at this Sunday’s event will be adequately spaced for social distancing, utilizing the first and second levels of the recently renovated Backyard space, where a canopy blocks out the sun. There also will be fewer vendors than in the full-on ICBs, with approximately 40 purveyors of arts, crafts, baked and vintage goods, instead of the typical 90. As Gaidry explains, while the popular drink specials, like mimosas, will remain, other alterations have been made in the name of COVID compliance.
“We have made it free admission to try and entice more people to come out,” he says, noting that traditional admission has always been $5. “That tempers what we’re able to do. We can’t do the DIY [activities] and the swag bags, but the vendors are going to be the same quality you’d expect to see at ICB. We’re trying to encourage people to feel comfortable to come out. We still have the free parking option for the attendees. We’re doing everything we can to make it profitable for the vendors as well, because we know it’s been difficult.”
Furthermore, this version of Indie Craft Bazaar is likely to become a monthly event, typically on the third Thursday of the month. Gaidry is hoping the pent-up demand will help ICB thrive even during the traditionally slower summer months. “With the influx of people that are trying to escape the frigid temperatures elsewhere, maybe people are going to be looking for a heat experience this summer,” he says.
The “Mini Indie” open air craft market returns from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at Backyard, 100 S.W. Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. For updates and other information, visit the event’s Facebook page.