Jack Craft Fair

Jack Craft Fair at Buffalo Central Terminal

Post Update:

This People, Places & Things post actually fits into all three categories. We bring you the people (Samantha Epps & Khrista Tabak) behind the thing (3rd Annual Jack Craft Fair) at the place (Buffalo Central Terminal).

This year’s Jack Craft fair will be on Saturday, August 13th in the main building of the Buffalo Central Terminal. We will be there, along with over 100 local artists. So add it to your calendar, we hope to see you there. Now, enough about us 🙂 !

Meet Samantha Epps

Samantha Epps - Jack Craft Fair“I was born in Cheektowaga and moved into the city about 3 years ago. I started working for the Western New York Book Arts Center. That is when I really started to be more invested in the arts. It was while I working there, back in 2014 that I started the Jack Craft Fair.”

“I am currently the event planner for Larkin Square, managing all of the fun public events like Food Truck Tuesday.”

Meet Khrista Tabak

Khrista Tabak - Jack Craft Fair“I grew up in Lake View. My husband and I kinda got priced out of the city, so we bought a house and are living out in Amherst. I went to school to be an art teacher. I worked at the Book Arts Center for a little while also, so that’s where Sam and I met. I got a job teaching art in Depew. I teach Kindergarten through 5th grade art, and the high school art as well. It’s awesome, I really really like it. You have to be a different person throughout the day. I start my day at the high school as myself and then I end my day at the elementary school as a clown. So, I’m sort of a hybrid between an art teacher and a clown.”

Working together

Khrista: “Last year, I helped Sam with the Fair, I wasn’t an official partner, but I thought a workshop and I helped her physically set it up. This year, she asked me to help her out with it. She’s definitely the easiest person that I have ever worked with. We blend well and work well together. We realized that while at WNYBAC, sitting at the same desk. ”

Jack Craft Fair at Buffalo Central Terminal

Sam added: “I think you know when someone shares your vision. I think that is how it was with the Jack Craft Fair. There is just so much opportunity here, and I really want to start this for Buffalo. I realized very quickly that it was more work than I could take on, however it was my love and my passion so I wanted to continue doing it. I needed to find a partner. I couldn’t think of a better person than Krista. She has the best background I can think of as an art teacher. That’s perfect for workshop coordinating. She’s also very easy to get along with. We’re the Jack Craft Dream Team.”

How the Jack Craft Fair got started

Samantha: “It started out of a want to do a little bit something different in Buffalo. I love to go to craft fairs and festival events. I saw room for something more in Buffalo. There were so many other vendors that I wanted to showcase. People that I knew personally, and people that I knew were doing so many amazing new progressive things in the world of art that I wanted to recognize. One of the missions of the fair is to give people who don’t have opportunities to do art full time an opportunity to still sell their art. I think that it’s important to be valued for what you do, and what you love to do. We receive hundreds of applications for the fair. We try to curate them intentionally. You see a lot of the same people at lots of fairs, but we’re trying to give other people a chance as well. Another thing that we do when we evaluate artists for the fair is how fully they have mastered their craft. “Jack” stands for Jack of all Trades. We’re trying to create something for artists who have truly mastered what they love to do, and showcase them.”

“This year, we will have just over 100 artists, and we’re excited to have over 25 new artists exhibiting. The point isn’t to exclude the artists that you see at a lot of other events. The idea is just to improve on it. There are so many more and emerging artists in Buffalo.”

Expanding The Workshops

Jack Craft FairSamantha: “One thing that we are super excited about thanks to the addition of Khrista is being able to expand the workshops. Instead of just having one or two, we now have a full day schedule.”

Khrista: “We have seven workshops, all led by working artists in Buffalo. The goal is to give people a free hour or half hour of art making that gives them a skill or gives them something tangible to take home with them. As great as the art scene is in Buffalo, it is hard for people to find an affordable class or way to discover a new skill without shelling out some bucks. So, even if it’s just one day a year, to give people a day-long experience where they get to create a bunch of things, meet a bunch of artists and learn some new skills – that’s the goal.”

Samantha: “There is such a revival of old school crafts right now. We’re giving people a chance to do some of the things that they have seen on Pinterest, but haven’t had the time to do it.”

Arts in Buffalo

Samantha: “It’s hard to speak to other cities, because I haven’t lived anywhere else. But, I would say that Buffalo’s scene is really welcoming and encouraging. I learned that from working at the Book Arts Center. It’s a small place, and tight knit community.”

Khrista: “For the size of the city, the art scene is pretty impressive. Any night of the week, there is something going on. I think that a lot of that stems from the number of universities that we have. UB and Buffalo State have good art programs and more and more people want to stay in Buffalo.”

Photos from our interview with Samantha and Khrista at Central Terminal

Biggest Challenge

Samantha: “Finding a venue. I wouldn’t say that we have had trouble. We’ve actually enjoyed moving from venue to venue. In our first year, we had it at Larkin Square. The second year was at Riverworks and now in our third year, it’s at Central Terminal. I think it’s a cool opportunity for people to see new place. A lot of people haven’t seen the inside of Central Terminal, and neither had I until I was touring places for the venue. I enjoy that aspect of it, but we want a permanent venue. ”

Khrista: “In the summertime, Buffalo is beautiful, but you never know if it’s going to rain. And rain would really ruin this event so we need a place that is covered.”

Samantha: “I think that this venue is so far the best fit for the Fair. That’s why I hope that we can call it home. It’s just absolutely beautiful and similarly to the event, it’s in disrepair, but it’s up and coming.”

What would you tell a younger version of yourself?

Khrista: “I think that I had convinced myself when I was younger that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do because there was no way to make a living doing it. I had lost hope when I was in college and had a crisis of not knowing what I was doing. I felt like I was never going to find a job, or be successful. I think a lot of artists are convinced that they can’t make it.” Samantha adds: “To go along with that, I have seen three or four artists who were at the fair last year that have transition from making art a part time thing to a full time thing for themselves. Not that I can take ownership of that, but that feels so good to me. To see that happen. To think that I was a part of that.”

Khrista: “There is nothing better than doing something that you absolutely love doing for a living. I love my job. I love my job, I love being an art teacher. When I go to work, I don’t feel like I am going to work. I can say that honestly. I think that I would try to instill some more optimism into my younger self.”

Samantha: “I think I would tell my younger self to stay in Buffalo. I did stay in Buffalo, but there was a really big part of me after college was ready to get out of here. I was looking at a graduate program in Colorado, and I was ready to submit my application, and then I got a call from the Book Arts Center and fell in love with it. I dropped those plans and stayed.”

Khrista: “I was convinced that I was going to leave as well. I definitely wouldn’t have the opportunities that I have if I moved to a bigger city. I don’t think that I would be able to make as many connections. It’s a big pond, small fish kind of scenario.”

Samantha: “Home seems like the last place you want to be when you’re done with highschool or college. You just want to get out of here. But, when you realize what other cities are like, and there’s more to them than just being your home town.”

Khrista: “I like the idea of being a tourist in Buffalo. I love doing all of the touristy things. Now that I have summers off, I’m trying to get out and do more stuff like that.”


Jack Craft Fair at Buffalo Central Terminal
Jack Craft Fair at Buffalo Central Terminal

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Written by Sam @ yeahBuffalo
Sam is co-founder of Yeah! Buffalo as well as Owner of theBREWROOM, a Buffalo NY based internet marketing company. Follow Sam : @SamInsalaco