Last Saturday, April 25, Artisanal LA held its Spring Show at the Reef, a downtown Los Angeles venue. Within that building, the atmosphere was filled with wondrous delights for all ages, although it can safely be said the primary appeal was to the Baby Boomer set. You need not have been what some might term an over-the-hill-hippie to have enjoyed this festival. All that was necessary was the ability to savor the culture of natural alternatives to the junk-food, plasticized lifestyle that has taken over the world.
If you were there for ideas on how to change your health for the better, this was the place. An abundance of available samples of wholesome, GMO-free, organic, meatless, or other types of healthy foods were presented. Crafts involving natural materials such as soy or beeswax candles, natural perfumes and soaps, were also presented. Vendors were glad to answer questions, provide business cards and other materials, and had ample wares on hand for those wishing to take some home.
The same could be said for those selling books on natural living, whether this involved beekeeping, building a homestead, urban farming, making preserves, or even poetry. In fact, there was an actual poet on the site, clacking away at an old manual typewriter, for those interested in buying “fresh” poems on the spot. Even the sight of one of these pre-computer-age instruments held fascination for those who were not yet born when they were the primary means of producing words other than by handwriting (another anachronism).
Unfortunately, the festival could have used more space; by noon—having only opened shortly after 11:00 a.m.—the place was so packed the narrow hallways made getting from one end to the other very difficult. Attendees were squished together in a way conducive to causing panic attacks in those suffering from claustrophobia. A better idea would be to hold such an event either outdoors inside large tents, or at least in an arena. Despite the ongoing drought, there was some precipitation that day, which may have interfered had the festival been held outside, but with either a sturdy large canopy or spacious building, things could have been dry and more enjoyable. An event geared toward natural living would seem better in fresh air, after all.
There were so many vendors with fantastic products, it would be next to impossible to detail them all in this limited space, but they include H2rOse, selling beverages made from rose water; Soledad Goat Sanctuary, providing not just goat milk products but showing live residents of their home for any animal in need; Seabold Ginger Beer; and Plant Folk Apothecary. These will be examined further at later dates.
There were supposed to have been some demonstrations on stages during both days of the festival. The promised balm-making session, due to inability to use propane in the building, was cancelled. In its place was a lesson in making bitters, for digestive purposes. With no idea, it seemed, by anyone, where the stages were (which turned out to be tables set up, rather than actual stages) mentioned in the promotional literature, it was difficult to find what was going on and where, if at all. Improvements to this aspect of the festival could be made next year, it may be hoped.
All in all, Artisanal LA was worth battling the crowd (and for some, several buses and trains each way!) for the experience. In Los Angeles, it’s not that easy, nor often, one may encounter so many purveyors of natural alternatives to the urban madness most prevalent today, all in one place.