Enchanted Mountains, Cattaraugus County’s tourism organization, is looking forward to hosting the sixth annual We Invite Local Manufacturers and Artisans (W.I.L.M.A.) event on October 20-21. This buy-local exposition takes place at the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds in Little Valley and is the perfect opportunity to learn more about what makes Cattaraugus County so unique. From handcrafted gifts to delicious foods, W.I.L.M.A. weekend has everything you need to kick off a new season and prepare for the holidays!
W.I.L.M.A. is more than an acronym, as anyone who has participated in the event knows. It’s also the name given to the woolly bear that kicks off the event each year. Since the expo takes place during woolly bear caterpillar season, the event begins with one of the county’s legislators finding a woolly bear (Wilma, the woolly bear) at the fairgrounds and predicting the severity of the coming winter, based on the size of the caterpillar’s reddish middle stripe.
Although W.I.L.M.A. is the ideal venue for area artisans and crafters to get their product into the hands of local shoppers, Enchanted Mountains has opened the event to any businesses located in the county. Retail shops, manufacturers and direct selling businesses are invited to participate this year in order to increase the variety of vendors at W.I.L.M.A.
Also new for 2018, W.I.L.M.A. will be featuring arts, culture and heritage demonstrations throughout the weekend. Visitors can look forward to demonstrations in woodcarving, basket weaving, yarn spinning and more. Interested demonstrators can still sign up to participate and stipends are available.
W.I.L.M.A. is the perfect opportunity to shop for a distinctive gift for the upcoming holiday season, while keeping your money in the community. Shopping local is more than just avoiding long lines and crammed parking lots at the mall (although this is an added perk!). Buying locally-made products supports business owners and families right in the community, while also creating jobs and encouraging local tourism. Additionally, shopping local reduces transportation costs and lessens the environmental impact of these businesses.
There’s something for everyone to enjoy at W.I.L.M.A. Favorite vendors over the years include Fat Root, LLC of Hinsdale, whose famous horseradish recipe has been passed down since the late 1800s. Fat Root is excited to participate in this year’s expo and promises to bring a variety of their mouth-watering (and potentially eye-watering) condiments, as well as maple syrup, honey and more.
Another popular booth at W.I.L.M.A. sells locally-made rubber mats in a variety of sizes and price ranges. New last year, the Kumbha Moon Soap Company makes small batch handcrafted soaps made with natural botanical ingredients with no synthetic dyes, fragrances or other chemical additives. Shoppers will love naturally fragrant ingredients like paprika, safflower, nettle leaf and more.
Jodi Scanlan, owner of Rustic Originals, is looking forward to returning to W.I.L.M.A. with her handcrafted signs, country primitive décor, Christmas ornaments and more. Scanlan and her eye-catching signs – her best-selling items – are well-known throughout the area, as Rustic Originals participates in craft shows throughout western New York year ‘round. This year, her booth will also include handmade soaps and candles by Lora Farnham and Nichole Pennell’s baby onesies, dresses and bibs.
W.I.L.M.A. takes place indoors in the 4H building at the fairgrounds, and will run from 10am-5pm on Saturday, Oct. 20 and from 11am-3pm on Sunday, Oct. 21. Admission is free and visitors can enjoy free apple cider and donuts. Vendor applications are still being accepted for the expo; visit www.enchantedmountains.com for an application and more information about W.I.L.M.A.