Volunteers fuel the Pink Palace Crafts Fair

The annual Pink Palace Crafts Fair -- the museum's largest fundraiser -- takes place this month and requires the help of an army of volunteers. The day of crafts, culture, education, music and shopping has become one of the most beloved fall traditions in Memphis.
For Janie Best-Paraham, accepting the role of Volunteer Coordinator at the Memphis Pink Palace Museum was a homecoming of sorts. She left to accept a program associate position in the Early Childhood Education Department at the University of Memphis, but returned to the Pink Palace last March. In her new role, this is the first time Best-Paraham has been at the helm to coordinate the shifts, schedules and placement of hundreds volunteers who will lend a hand at the museum’s biggest fundraiser — the Pink Palace Crafts Fair. All proceeds will go directly to the museum to support its programs and facilities.
 
2015 marks the 43rd year that crafts, culture, education, music and shopping will be rolled into a singular outdoor experience that has become one of the most beloved fall traditions in Memphis. This year the crafts fair will take place Oct. 9, 10 and 11 in Audubon Park. Best-Paraham needs the services of 300 volunteers -- 100 per day -- to assist with a range of activities over the course of the three-day event. Volunteers assist with parking, ticketing and kids crafts.
 
"Our volunteers are a very valuable part of this system," said Best-Paraham. "Our volunteers with The Pink Palace Family of Museums contributed $555,796.65 of volunteer hours last year. Their wiliness to donate their time and talents to The Pink Palace, Lichterman Nature Center, and the Mallory Neely House is instrumental to the success of the exhibits, events, and programs in the museum system."
 
But she thinks volunteering has benefits for individuals, too. "If you find the right place and the right fit, volunteering can enhance your life in many ways. Volunteering allows people to connect to their community and to other people. It can provide a sense of purpose for some people. Folks can learn new skills, and these may even help them  advance their career. For me, personally, volunteering is good for my soul."
Ronda Cloud, Marketing and Public Relations Manager for the Pink Palace, gave her perspective on what makes the Pink Palace Crafts Fair unique.
 
“This is a juried crafts fair, which means craftspeople have to submit their work for review and actually be selected to participate in this event,” said Cloud. “Also, the educational aspect of our crafts fair sets us apart from other festivals. Throughout the event, we have dozens of craftspeople demonstrating old-fashioned, hand-made artisan crafts such as broom-making, wood working, chair caning, glass blowing, weaving, tatting and more. And, we offer interactive family activities to engage people with the crafts.”
 
“Everything old is new again!” continued Cloud. “This year we are returning to our roots, with a renewed focus on education. There will be ongoing crafts demonstrations, as well as representatives from the Pink Palace Education Department and Lichterman Nature Center, to bring science and nature to the public.”
 

Read more articles by Emily Adams Keplinger.

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