By Aileen Blaine
Though the weather outside is frightful, Youngstown’s B&O Station Banquet Hall will host its 13th annual Winter Market to chase the winter blues away with colorful arts and crafts.
Hosted by local nonprofit organization Buster’s Brigade and artisanal group Artists of the Rust Belt, the event provides an opportunity for crafters, artisans and shoppers to engage with and support the community.
Lauren Potts, Artists of the Rust Belt administrator, said the market is an opportunity for couples to spend time shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts outside of the traditional dinner date and box of chocolates.
“We always try to have the market before Valentine’s Day, so if people want to get their significant other a unique gift, they can,” Potts said. “Even if they want to go shopping together and pick some things out — they can do that, too.”
The station’s kitchen will be open for the duration of the market, meaning that guests can grab a bite to eat between visits to vendors’ boutiques. After a brief hiatus last year, participants are excited to return.
“The B&O Station is a beautiful venue and it has so much meaning in Youngstown, so we’re really excited to be back another year,” Potts said.
About 32 vendors are expected to be there, selling everything from jewelry and refurbished furniture to photography prints and gourmet treats. One thing the market strives to be is a haven for authentic artisans, meaning that vendors selling out-of-box or non-homemade products — while not barred from participation — aren’t the focal point of the event.
“We try to keep it genuine at the market,” Potts said. “We want it to be a way to support local artists and crafters and artisans, because they’re all so talented. Not that those out-of-box vendors don’t have a time or place, but that’s not what our focus is.”
Vendors include local businesses such as Sandpiper Soaps, Lunalu Artisan Jewelry, Rustic Lamps and Linda’s Bee Farm.
Nichole Rich, owner of Art by Nichole, specializes in hand-painted dot mandela paintings on a variety of products, such as canvases, wooden boxes, candleholders, jewelry and handmade stones. She said she’s participated in the Winter Market since 2017, and it’s one of her favorite venues.
“All of the artists are incredibly talented, and it’s a really great atmosphere,” Rich said. “There’s music, and the food coming out of that kitchen is always delicious.”
The market is also an opportunity for the community to support Buster’s Brigade. The organization directs funds to local animal shelters and rescues, including Angels for Animals, and will sponsor a raffle with donations from the artists.
“There’s a small charge at the door, but it’s for a really great cause,” Rich said. “Buster’s Brigade helps animals get the care they need.”
The market runs from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6. Admission is $1 at the door. For more information, visit the event’s page on Facebook.