Karla Rothstein, earlier this week, holds up a long list of performers, artisans and vendors appearing at Saturday's Festive at Greylock Works.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Some 60 vendors and artisans will be showing their wares in the spacious Weave Shed at Greylock Works on Saturday.
But this isn't your typical farmer's market or craft bazaar.
Instead of rushing through, the organizers are hoping patrons of Festive Holiday Market will slow down, have a cup of coffee, try some of the food being made by award-winning chefs, take time to talk to the artisans about their passion and, in general, just chill.
"I think sometimes you walk by the vendors ... you want to stop at this and slow down and talk to everyone about their story," said Tristan Roberts, who with partner Jennifer Preston is producing Festive in collaboration with Greylock Works. "They are such interesting people and it's really wonderful work that they're doing."
Preston said the massive size of the former textile mill lends itself to creating "pockets of space to hang out in," an invitation to linger through the daylong event and watch demonstrations and participate in activities.
Each vendor or maker has a story about why they are doing what they are doing, she said. "They all really come at it from incredibly fascinating angles and I had a really good time getting to know all the makers."
Around 60 vendors, makers, musicians and others are participating in this first Festive event, designed to draw from both within inside and outside the region and highlight some of the best of the Berkshires.
Brian Alberg, executive chef for Main Street Hospitality (Red Lion Inn), will be serving up locally sourced grilled lamb, pork meatballs and vegan chili "street food"; Crisp catering is firing up its mobile wood-fired pizza oven and shucking oysters; chef Cortney Burns, who left San Francisco to open a new restaurant with the Tourists project, will be demonstrating all things pickling. Rachael Mamane, author of "Mastering Stocks and Broths," will be holding forth on these culinary fundamentals as well as being the keynote at Friday's community dinner at Greylock Works.
There will also be entertainment with musicians and spoken word, pottery and wood artisans, jewelers, foods and design, chocolates, herbs and plants, and beverages, and others, including a chance to try a miniature version of Ramblewild's canopy walk.
"Festive is basically a holiday market but we ... didn't want to make it commerce-oriented," Roberts said. "We really want to make it about the community and the craft and the spirit of these artisans and makers."
The idea for Festive grew out of the couple's side venture "for joy and pleasure," the Laurentia Project. Architects by training (Roberts is now a sustainability consultant), both are interested in design and how that affects relationships and communities.
"We bring people together around difficult topics with really delicious food and beautiful space," Preston said. "We facilitate a kind of problem-solving, community-building atmosphere."
There are people trying to solve big problems, they said, often in "horrible spaces." Windowless conference rooms, drab offices, long tables and lots of technology.
"Problems are not getting solved, people are not getting connected to each other," Preston said.
Roberts continued that thought with "What if instead of banging their heads against the same columns and ugly space, we change the environment and have it more like an intimate dinner party ... see if that changes the conversation."
That's what the Laurentia Project has been doing over the past year and half. They've had an event in Manhattan and a series on the West Coast but nothing in the Berkshires, so far, until Festive.
Roberts, sitting the dining room of their second-story apartment, with views looking down on the city center, said she came to North Adams from New York City for a better life. But the couple have known Greylock Works and Latent Production owners Karla Rothstein and Salvatore Perry, also both architects and designers, for awhile.
They had been talking about events to activate the 26,000-square-foot Weave Shed, the first phase of the renovation of the 240,000 square foot mill, and the idea of a food symposium came up.
"We had this really lovely brainstorm," Roberts said. "This is the thing that resonated with Karla and Sal and this is what resonated with us."
A year in the making, the event is focused on slowing down and appreciating food and being resource smart.
"I really feel like folks are turning away from this consuming consumption lifestyle and appreciating simple good company and having simple good company means making good food with people, not for people," she said.
Festive runs from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Greylock Works, 508 State Road. Parking is available in the back. Admission is $6 at the door but blocks of four tickets (with free tote bag) for $20 can be purchased through Evenbrite through Friday. Children under 12 are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased with credit cards but vendors may have different pay options.
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