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January 11, 2023 6 min read

2022 was a pretty good year for our events and community support of local artists. We had a year of growth, gratitude, and so much more!  We could all connect with customers in person at the MADE fair events. Our brick-and-mortar shop in Polson has been growing in popularity, and we are adding more artists to the mix for 2023 and offering an even more comprehensive selection of goods to purchase in-store and online. Check out this little blog post about some behind-the-scenes look at what we are up to on the website front. We love to provide opportunities for creatives, and we have gotten feedback that 2022 had some ups and downs.  We have read the surveys and emails, gathered the numbers, written checks to non-profits, and are very proud of the following numbers:

5 events successfully organized and presented by handMADE Montana

480+ artists provided opportunities at our events and retail store

2500 pounds of food donated at our Spring, Fall & Holiday MADE fairs

15,000 dollars raised for Hopa MountainAmerican PrairieFlorence Crittenton, and the Missoula Butterfly House & Insectarium via VIP passes!

1.75 Million estimated dollars of revenue generated for local & regional artists at our MADE fairs in Missoula, Bozeman, and Helena and our retail store in Polson, MT

Here is a 
link to a great article in the Valley Journal about our efforts and successes.


As we look forward to 2023, we plan to continue with our events as they happened last year with a few small tweaks. When planning MADE fairs and selecting dates, we are often at the mercy of the facility's fluctuating schedules. Our October dates are currently TBA, and we will let everyone know as soon as we have a contract in hand. The VIP shopping experience is intended to be a slower and more intimate option for customers. It is growing in popularity, but we will cap the number of tickets available to keep it special. Set-up for events requires a minimum of 4 hours (often beginning in the early morning), and then artists load in. With a Friday VIP, we maximize the facility rental (since we need to be there anyways) and can have a 1+ day event. It is a bit of a compromise to 2-day events. We will continue to work to connect artists for homestays and seek out hotel deals to help reduce expenses for artists. Our holiday show in Missoula will always remain a 1-day event due to a possible football playoff game on Saturday. We will be able to load in on Saturday, but we can't be guaranteed to have the whole day until weeks before.


Mark your calendars so you don't miss out on applying for or attending the 2023 events. For additional information, visit our website to learn how to apply for Spring & Summer /Fall & Holiday events. We have standardized the booth fees except for the summer show, where the 10x6 is an 8x6.  Electricity is $15 (not available for summer and only for 10x10 booths or bigger for Missoula Holiday), and table rental is $12.  Bookmark our application page to be able to apply to all of the shows easily. Spring & Summer are ready to go, and the Fall & Holiday will be ready on August 1st. 

VIP Fri (5 pm- 8 pm) // SAT10 am-4 pm Early Bird 9 am-10 am
DEADLINE                 MARCH 1    

MISSOULA Summer // June 18 // CARAS PARK
10 am-4 pm 
DEADLINE                APRIL 1          

VIP Fri (5 pm-8 pm) // SAT10 am-4 pm Early Bird 9 am-10 am

DEADLINE                 AUGUST 1            

VIP Fri (5 pm-8 pm) // SAT10 am-4 pm Early Bird 9 am-10 am

DEADLINE                OCTOBER 1      

VIP 10 am-11 am // 11am-5 pm 
DEADLINE                OCTOBER 1                


We are often asked the following questions and thought we could answer a couple of them here: 

Q: Why have booth fees slightly increased?
A: Last year, we had a few unexpected increases in expenses, including a 25% jump in some venue rental fees and printing costs. There are several working parts to planning and presenting the MADE fairs, and each piece costs a little bit more each year. Our application and booth fees are quite reasonable compared to other events of our size, and it is important to us to remain affordable. We increased the booth fees slightly to help cover these expenses and haven't done so in several years.

Q:  Is this the year you will introduce an event in Kalispell, Whitefish, or Billings?

A: It is something we are thinking about and most likely be a summer event if we can find a suitable venue to accommodate our artists and customers. There are a few things we consider when adding new events. Will artists want to travel to participate, is there a venue big enough (50,000 sq feet is ideal + parking), and is there a customer base to support and shop the event? This year we will focus on the current event offerings while researching future options.

Q: How do I get my products in the retail shop or on the website?
 We recently reviewed all the artists we support in the shop and will invite a few new ones to be a part of the store. If you are interested in being considered in the future, 
please fill out an online submission 

Our summers are pretty crazy with tourists, and our visitors are eager to bring home a bit of Montana with them. We encourage visitors to choose products made by local & regional artists instead of something with just the shape of MT slapped on it. We have seen great success with functional art pieces and less with more fine works of art.

Q: How do I get the best booth at the show?

A: This is a good one. We try to be consistent with artist placement from year to year if possible. We feel there are no terrible spaces at an event, but here are a few ways to move closer to the front. 

  1. Fill out your contract and pay your booth fee ASAP once accepted. 
  2. Volunteer! We always look for folks to hang posters, chalk, set up, clean up, etc., and would love to return the favor with more premium placement. 
  3. Be kind. If you have had a bad experience, let us know constructively.
  4. Remember to stay for the duration of the event. We notice if people pack up early. 

One more thing on the subject is presentation and showmanship. As artists, we are sometimes a shy population that doesn’t enjoy interacting with others. You may need to put on a different personality for shows and talk to every customer approaching your booth. Presentation of your goods should be inviting, and it’s always great to try and have a genuine conversation about the items you sell and your process in making them. People at events like the MADE fairs choose to be there because they want to find a unique item and know its story, so tell it.

Q: The events seem to be overwhelming, and so many artists! Have you thought about making them smaller?
A: The MADE fairs have grown in size, and so has our audience. We feel there is plenty of pie to go around. Last year, we eliminated the smallest booth size to have fewer artists at our events and focused on a more diverse and curated collection. As a result of fewer booth spaces, it is more competitive to be juried into the event. We love discovering new artists and encourage past participants to keep developing their products and offerings.

Q: Why isn't attending the event free anymore?
 It is still free to attend! Recently, we have introduced VIP shopping hours for those wanting a more intimate shopping experience. A portion of the ticket fee proceeds goes directly to a non-profit and not into our pockets. We feel it is essential to give back to the community that supports our artists and shows. 


Join the fun & support local art