As a lover of handmade things, and a supporter of artists sharing their talents with the world, I wish there was a Fenton Street Market in every neighborhood.
The brainchild of Silver Spring, Maryland resident Hannah McCann, the Fenton Street Market is a weekly exhibition of local talent and entrepreneurship that began as a two-weekend experiment at the end of 2009.
Hannah knew there was creativity and innovation in her neighborhood that was just waiting for a place to show itself. She found that place in a vacant lot at the corner of Fenton Street and Silver Spring Avenue, in downtown Silver Spring, MD.
The first two weekends were so successful, Hannah was able to get support from local non-profits and business development organizations like Downtown Silver Spring, to make the Market a more permanent event.
The market began its 2010 season on April 17, and has been running every Saturday since. Vendors at the Market are different nearly every week, and include artists, designers, crafters, and collectors from all over DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
The day I visited, I found beautiful silk purses, handmade jewelry of all kinds, stuffed toys, hand-carved wooden walking sticks, screen-printed posters, and much more. There was even a woodcarver who specialized in handmade pens. I chose from more than a dozen types of wood he had in his booth, and he carved a pen just for me while I waited!
The other driving forces behind the Fenton Street Market are two women who know a bit about putting together successful arts and crafts markets. The Market’s manager is Debbie Lee, the architect of Silver Spring’s Handmade Mart, a craft show which gets nationwide attention that happens twice a year. Her intrepid assistant manager is Jessica Blaszczak, the mastermind behind the Ballston Arts and Crafts Market in Arlington, Virginia, a monthly market from May through October.
If only these women (or at least their efforts) could be cloned, there could be cool places to shop in every neighborhood on every weekend of the year! The Fenton Street Market is open every Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm from April through October. Visit the web site for a list of participating vendors.