BUTLER — After more than three decades, the Prairie Peddler Marketplace is used to battling the elements to keep the festival afloat -- even, this year, amid a pandemic.
The 33rd annual Prairie Peddler is indeed happening this fall, starting this Saturday, Sept. 26. The festival will continue through Sept. 27, Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
In these extraordinary times, founder and organizer Suzi Skoglund has worked closely with Richland Public Health to create a plan to keep vendors and attendees safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"We know how hard things are for vendors this year," Skoglund said. "It’s not just the illness but it’s the emotional and financial toll it’s taking on people. We wanted to do this responsibly, so we submitted a proposal to the health department and worked with them to get a plan that they accepted."
Guidelines from Richland Public Health for the COVID-19 pandemic include:
• If you feel sick, stay at home
• Wear a mask at all times, except when eating
• Observe social distancing six feet apart
• Eat only in designated picnic areas
• Please consider shopping in off-peak times, between 1 and 5 p.m.
Part of the COVID-19 guidelines include the number of people inside the event at any given time will be limited to 4,000 allow for proper social distancing. If capacity has been reached, guests will be asked to wait outside the gate until the number of people inside the event has decreased.
"We have no idea how many people are going to come out to this this year," Skoglund said. "Some people will be anxious to get out, and it's better to be doing things outdoors, so this is an opportunity to come out in the country and get some fresh air and shop at Prairie Peddler."
Similar to years past, more than 200 individual shops will be present at the Prairie Peddler Marketplace. Items offered include hand-crafted bath and body products, scented candles, personalized Christmas gifts, country, farmhouse and seasonal decor. A wide variety of food choices with fall favorites such as pumpkin donuts, apple cider, soups, sandwiches and many home-cooked selections will also be available.
Skoglund and her daughter Mandie Willis organize the vendors each year, placing them across the 12-acre outdoor marketplace like a giant puzzle. She said only a few vendors cancelled due to COVID-19 this year.
"There are an awful lot of vendors out there who don’t have any other shows going because so many things have been cancelled," Skoglund said.
The goal of the Prairie Peddler Marketplace hasn't changed: the opportunity for people to support small businesses. Skoglund estimated 90 percent of the products at the Peddler are handmade by artists from Ohio and surrounding states, even as far as Florida.
"It's evolved through the years," she said. "Crafting is ever-changing and people are really good at creating and coming up with new trends.
"You want people to enjoy and have a good time, people have been cooped up for six months. We’re very grateful we can have this, we just want people to be respectful of each other."
The Prairie Peddler Marketplace will take place on State Route 97, three miles east of Butler. Admission is $8 for adults. Kids age 12 and under are free. For more information, a list of vendors and COVID-19 guidelines visit shopthepeddler.com.