By Kathy Chouteau
Back by popular demand—and on the heels of Earth Day—the “UPcycle Spring Fest” will return April 24 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to the open lot adjacent to the Abrams Claghorn Gallery, 1251 Solano Ave. in Albany. The second incarnation of the event, which debuted at the same spot in September 2021, will feature a spring-appropriate “flower power” theme, as well as a contingent of Richmond artists.
Katie Harrison, a resident of Richmond’s Panhandle Annex and the event founder/organizer, said the Fest will feature 20 vendors, among them local area artisans, crafters, makers, etc. who upcycle materials to create their works, in turn, saving those items from ending up in landfills.
Harrison said that the first UPcycle Fest received overwhelming support from “every nook and cranny of the surrounding communities” and that the spring event carries on the same overall aim: “To continue inspiring each other to find new ways to upcycle and reduce [waste] and to try to educate ourselves and each other in a creative, fun way.”
The event organizer, who is a flight attendant by trade, will also be a vendor at the Fest via her side business—Beer Can Gardens—where she sells plants in upcycled beer cans, tea pots, wine bottles and other creatively reused containers. She’ll also have some vintage clothes for sale and a “Make & Take Workshop” where people can choose their own container and plant their own succulents.
Aside from Harrison, others selling or displaying their upcycled creations will be Richmond’s own CJ Grossman, who makes garden jewelry and who will have a second booth featuring secondhand art supplies; Steve Zwetsch of Cigar Box Kitchen Guitars in El Sobrante, who will have cigar box guitars for sale/ordering; and Richmond’s anonymous Beer Can Monolith Creator, who will once again be making a beer-can archway for the event, as well as pyramids and other surprises.
Other upcyclers from nearby communities will also be on hand at the Fest and Harrison is looking to line up a food truck via Dispatch Goods—known for working to stop waste in the restaurant community—but that offering remains unconfirmed as of this writing.
Vendors surrounding the Upcycle/flower power theme are still being accepted by the UPcycle Spring Fest; to inquire about participating, contact Harrison at [email protected] or on Instagram via @beer_can_gardens. To check out a video of last year’s UPcycle Fest by Alex McCutcheon, click here.
As for future plans, Harrison hopes to expand the UPcycle Fest to occur more than twice a year and encourages any venues out there wanting to host one to contact her at the aforementioned email.