Flower beds teeming with colorful blooms and lush green lawns provided an inviting backdrop for the Solstice Soiree, held June 22 at The Farm in Murphys.
In its second year, the event was the brainchild of Kristina Bridges, owner of Wild West Botanicals, who saw the value of bringing together local talent and building community and, in a leap of faith, organized the gathering with local independent business women Devon Shires, Angie Ziehlke and Alissa Folendorf.
“I thought there were so many cool things going on, sort of this budding artist community, so I reached out to these three in particular – Devon, Angie and Alissa – knowing that we all brought something different to the table,” Bridges said of her early inspiration. “From seeing their work over the years, I knew that we all had what it would take to put something like this together.”
Though last year’s gathering was “kind of female-oriented” with the idea of “getting your girlfriends together and hanging out,” Solstice Soiree has evolved.
“This year we really wanted to expand it. We had a few guests last year who were men who really enjoyed the event, and we also got feedback from several other men who said they really would like to attend. So we wanted to expand it and make it larger and more inclusive,” Shires said. “Our hope was to create a fun, elevated event that celebrates the local talent in a creative way with a specific aesthetic that stays in keeping with the inspiring venue.”
To that end, a variety of juried makers, crafters and artisans, including jewelers, woodworkers, and ceramists, shared the space with interactive booths featuring face painting and caricatures, foot soaks and a nail spa, as well as tarot card readings and several informational booths.
Gold Country Young Farmers and Ranchers offered beer, wine and cider, and Erin Croshaw from Angels Food Market provided made-to-order sandwiches, side salads and treats.
“I had a great time last year, so I came again,” said Angels Camp resident Lindsey Wilson, who brought two friends from Copperopolis. “It’s just a good time with a bunch of women and local vendors, too.”
The price of admission – $20 presale and $30 at the door – also included small workshops presented by Olive & Rose, Wild West Botanicals and Indigo Farms, as well as a concert by popular local musician Grover Anderson.
“There are some new faces, which is super cool, and a more diverse age group, both with the vendors and the visitors,” said Alex Mannos of Sierra Photo and Framing, who also had a booth last year. “It’s just a super fun event at a beautiful venue, and I’m glad to be back.”
New vendor Jacquline Ridings, owner of Tart Deco Natural Nail Boutique, added, “As a vendor it was so lovely to be a part of such a great event. I absolutely loved being able to connect with so many amazing people face-to-face, other than just through social media. There are some truly talented artists that I really wanted to create a bond with and network with. So many people were there to support local vendors and artists, and that is something very special.”
As the golden rays of the setting sun began to arch over The Farm, illuminating the array of activity, organizer Bridges took it all in with a smile.
“Today definitely matched my original vision,” Bridges said. “I knew that there were so many talented artists and makers in our area, they alone set a beautiful tone at our event.”
Bridges said it was the perfect venue for the event and it was everything she had hoped for it.
“It was a very romanticized idea, but everyone who was a part of it, guest or vendor, made it exactly what we envisioned,” Bridges said. “I think it’s the most valuable thing we can do to keep our community thriving. Bringing people together in any capacity to enjoy the outdoors and celebrate one another keeps relationships strong. So many of us hibernate all winter, the Solstice Soiree is an event that makes you dig out your favorite outfit and go enjoy the sunshine with your friends.”