Rogers business owners hatch craft event to draw craft fair customers – Arkansas Online

ROGERS — Stacks of books surrounded Myra Moran and Bill Walker as the two Rogers business owners discussed plans for the upcoming He-Art Downtown Rogers Craft Fair.

The fair will coincide with the Northwest Arkansas Fall Fair, which runs Thursday through Sunday. It will be the first time Rogers Downtown Partners will participate in the regional event Friday through Sunday. The Rogers Craft Fair will run through Saturday.

Local craftsmen will set up demonstrations in businesses throughout the downtown district during the event, said Brenda Hester, Rogers Downtown Partners director and owner of Golden’s Designer Jewelry and Gun Engraving. Participating businesses will be marked with red balloons, she said.

Visitors downtown will be able to watch painters, potters and jewelry makers in action, Hester said. They also will be able to buy crafts created by the artists.

“We are hopeful it will help with foot traffic through our businesses and restaurants,” Hester said. “A lot of people don’t realize the quality of entrepreneurs we have downtown.”

Rogers Downtown Partners is made up of small-business owners invested in the city’s historic district. The event is not expected to draw the large crowds that other events such as War Eagle Mill fair. Yet, it is a first for the organization that is working to get the word out about what downtown Rogers has to offer.

Momentum has been building in the downtown Rogers area in recent months after the approval of a Downtown Master Plan by the Rogers City Council. Main Street Rogers announced plans last week for a new farmers market it will open in 2016. The Rogers Lowell Chamber of Commerce announced in August it was creating Downtown Rogers Inc., an organization that will oversee the implementation of the downtown plan.

A stream of event planners have crowded into the city’s Transportation Committee meetings since spring in hopes of shutting down streets for their events. There were so many the city had to rewrite its law on closing streets to appease downtown business owners who said the street closures were hurting their businesses.

The He-Art Downtown Rogers Craft Fair was created by the business owners, for the business owners, Hester said.

“We are a group of merchants, building owners, people who have a love for the downtown,” Hester said. “This is one of the ideas we came up with to promote the downtown.”

The event is designed to get people into the shops, Hester said. Streets and parking lots will not be closed for the event.

Walker stopped by Moran’s business, Trolley Line Bookshop, on Friday to let her know he has a pop-up tent she can use for the event. Walker, owner of WGW Marketing, doesn’t own a storefront downtown but is involved in Rogers Downtown Partners.

The tent will shade a group of authors and writers who will be sitting outside Moran’s shop for the event. She said the group will be available to talk about the craft of writing with visitors.

Moran said she doesn’t sell a lot of books during events downtown because people tend to visit book shops by themselves. Events draw people in groups, she said.

“Hopefully people will see the shop and come back later,” Moran said.

Julie Gowing Hayes, a painter, is one of the artists who will be onsite for the event. She will be set up inside The Rusty Chair.

“I am pretty excited about it,” Hayes said. “I live in Bella Vista, but I attend church in downtown Rogers. I think there is a lot of potential there for the arts. A lot is going on Bentonville, and I would like to see Rogers get some of that too.”

Hayes plans to paint during the event. She also will have reference pictures to show visitors her painting process.

“I will be open to discuss with everyone what I do,” Hayes said.

Hester said the individual business owners will decide how long to stay open for the event.

NW News on 10/12/2015