Ready, Set, JunkFest

I don’t know what’s in the water in Carrington, but I want some; this pretty little North Dakota prairie town is jam packed with cool, creative people.

I got my first look at the city last summer, when my cousin Landon married his lovely wife Jenna in the most gorgeous and free-spirited farm wedding ever — seriously, check out these photos — and I thought this creative spirit was confined to Jenna and her family. It turns out they’re just a few of the crafty people in the region.

JunkFest Sign
Photo by JunkFest & Flea Market

Today I’m talking with Missy Hafner, another passionate and creative North Dakotan. She’s one of the founders of JunkFest & Flea Market, a gathering of over 90 junk and vintage vendors, artisans and crafters on the Foster County Fairgrounds.

The event also features food vendors, live music from the lovely Amanda Standalone and Alien Brain and the Jugular Vein (a jug band — yessssss!) and enough treasure-hunting energy to fuel North Dakota through another long winter.

It’s basically evolved into a mecca and a showcase for creative souls, pickers, artists, treasure hunters, antique fiends and vintage enthusiasts from all over the state.

Missy gives us the inside scoop on how the event got started, how the junking scene has evolved and how the 9th annual event will be new and different. If you can’t make the event itself,  check out the JunkFest blog to get your fix.

The founders of JunkFest in Carrington
The JunkFest & Flea Market Founders.
Left to Right; Missy Hafner, Cassie Smith, Lynette Caylor.
Photo by Autumn Graber, Lake Region Woman Magazine

How are you involved with Junk Fest?
“I am a co-founder/co-organizer for the event, along with Cassie Smith and Lynette Caylor.  What originally started with 4 friends — and continues with the three of us — has become one of the highlights of our year.”

How did the idea get started?
“The junk trend seems to reach a new peak each year, especially with the heightened awareness to recycle and respect the environment.  But before it had gained such wide popularity in central North Dakota, other areas like Minneapolis were already seeing such trends over a decade ago.

So four small town moms, knowing each other primarily though their children’s school activities, work, and community, came together and brainstormed an event — a gathering of friends if you will — where they could share their love for found items and refreshed furniture and accessories.

They had each dabbled in vintage, craft and restored items through flea markets, craft shows and antique booths. But the need to travel so far made the decision even easier to bring these items to their own community.  And so JunkFest was born.”

Burlap Chairs at JunkFest in Carrington
Photo by JunkFest & Flea Market

How has the event grown and changed?
“The first JunkFest was held in Cassie’s garage in the country. Postcard announcements were sent out, flyers were hung in neighboring towns.  And when the time came to start the sale, a trail of dust appeared down the gravel road, a few cars…then several, parking and filling the gravel road to the point that area farmers could not get their equipment through.

Once there, they soon realized this wasn’t the typical garage sale but a cleverly displayed, and eclectic collection of recreated furniture, home décor and garden accessories, made from thrifty finds and other’s unwanted castoffs.

Over the years, the event has grown to encompass the entire Foster County Fairgrounds.  With the addition of a flea market, local (and some not so local) artisans now have a venue to sell their wares as well in this part of the state.  This year, our 9th Annual JunkFest and Flea Market is hitting its peak.”

Tableau at JunkFest in Carrington
Photo by JunkFest & Flea Market

What’s your favorite part of the event?
“Since we want our vendors to have ample time to prepare, shoppers are not allowed on the grounds until 9 a.m.  They are allowed to go through the admission area and wait in a blocked off area, though.  This has become an event all it’s own!

When 9 a.m. hits, the ribbon to this area is cut and the crowd — all jazzed up on anticipation — literally sprints to the destination of their choice.  We like to refer to this as the Dash to the Door, or the Shotgun Start (without the shotgun).

There are video clips of this fabulous craziness in the albums of our Facebook Page. We love this part because it is the kind of thing WE would do!”

Dash to the Start at Carrington JunkFest
Photo by JunkFest & Flea Market

What would you tell someone who has never attended the event?
“Get there by 9 a.m.! The scenery changes in the blink of an eye — and most items at this event are one of a kind — and the peak excitement is always at the start of the event. You can pay your admission early, but no shoppers are allowed on the grounds until 9 a.m. sharp!

Then stick around, listen to the music, eat, browse, visit and laugh with friends…new and old.  Bring cash, bring your Mom, sister, Dad, brother and your neighbor too.  You’re going to need them all to help you load your trailer.   Oh yeah…BRING A TRAILER.  You’ll regret it if you don’t.

The event offers everything from raw to repurposed to antique goods; a variety of artisan wares such as crocheted items, quilts, and more; jellies, jams and pies, produce, jewelry and so much more

Pumpkins at JunkFest in Carrington
Photo by JunkFest & Flea Market

What else should we check out when we’re in town?
“Check out the local shops.  Many of them offer coupons and discounts specifically for JunkFest Day.  Meander around town…you’ll find garage sales around every corner!  Check the Chamber and city websites for more local attractions, there is surely something to suit everyone!”

Are you excited yet? If you make it to the event, click on the links to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

JunkFest in Carrington
Photo by JunkFest & Flea Market

JunkFest & Flea Market
Saturday, September 7th
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Foster County Fairgrounds
301 16th Avenue South
Carrington, ND

$5 admission (12 and under free) entrance at the East gate
Free parking



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