Strange Folk Festival is coming to St. Louis.
That's the word from Autumn Wiggins, who released a flyer via email this afternoon, indicating the arts-and-crafts festival she founded will be held September 26 and 27 at Union Station. Wiggins indicated she'll be making a statement tomorrow.
Wiggins founded the festival ten years ago in her hometown of O'Fallon, Illinois, and grew it into what's arguably the premiere crafting festival in the entire region. But when Wiggins attempted to tell O'Fallon earlier this year that she was pulling the plug after nine years, things got messy -- the city attempted to claim that it owned the event, and that Wiggins was merely a vendor. The police even got involved after O'Fallon reported a laptop stolen.
Today, according to the Belleville News-Democrat, O'Fallon announced it's cancelling its attempt to hold Strange Folk without Wiggins -- a festival that had been slotted for the same weekend that Wiggins now says she'll be holding her event in St. Louis.
A statement on the city's website blames Wiggins:
It is with much regret that the City of O'Fallon announces it will not be holding its annual arts festival this year as a result of controversy created by former Arts Commission member Autumn Wiggins. ... Through the enthusiasm, creative thinking and hard work of [many] people, including Ms. Wiggins, the arts festival, known in recent years as the Strange Folk Festival, evolved and grew into a very successful event. Community events such as the Strange Folk Festival are part of why it is great to live in O'Fallon.
We are saddened that the City's efforts to maintain such a "feel good" event as the Strange Folk Festival caused such rancor and conflict. If there are no good feelings about holding the event, however, then there is no point in having it. The Strange Folk Festival was never about making money -- it was about promoting the arts and doing something good for O'Fallon.
Given the misunderstanding, rancor and conflict, we have concluded at this point that it will be very difficult to hold a successful Strange Folk Festival or any kind of arts festival in the City of O'Fallon this year, and that is unfortunate. There are no winners in this situation, and the losers are the City's residents.
In response, Wiggins tells Daily RFT, "The City of O'Fallon is logistically, legally, and physically incapable of producing Strange Folk Festival without me. This was never a question."
Crafters had taken to calling O'Fallon's festival "Fake Folk" -- and some vendors had promised to boycott long before Wiggins sent out the flyer announcing a festival of her own.
"I've been in business 15 years, and I know almost all the major players in the indie craft scene," craft maven Beqi Brinkhorst told the RFT in May. "They are all pissed."
With today's dual announcements, those crafters can stop being mad -- and start making plans to come to Union Station. We hear it's lovely that time of year.
We welcome tips and feedback. Contact the writer via email at [email protected]
Editor's note: This story was changed after publication to add a quotation from Wiggins and also make clear that it was Beqi Brinkhorst who told us the major players in the indie craft scene were "pissed." We regret the error.