Jennifer Somers, Editor |

Strange Folk Festival is a place where, once a year, all of the St. Louis metropolitan area’s wackiest, craziest, hungriest and craftiest gather to support around 200 independent artists while enjoying the sound of local bands and the taste of food truck cuisine.

The free-admission event draws in crowds with its laid-back vibes and its kid- and critter-friendly atmosphere.

This year’s festival was stationed Sept. 22-24 in the heart of Carondelet Park, a partially shaded, green pasture that offered relief from the late September heat and a hilly playground for youngsters tagging along with their parents.

Walking along the tent-covered artist booths, it’s extremely easy to lose oneself while appreciating the seemingly never-ending supply of handmade and handcrafted treasures.

Dino Rawr Clothing, a children’s boutique that stemmed from a woman sewing her son dinosaur clothing, sells hoodies with a soft trail of cloth spikes down the hood and back that transform the wearer into a scary-cute Jurassic creature.

Lightenstein, an unconventional lamp making shop, transforms mannequin hands, old cameras, microphones and instruments into practical artwork that can brighten up any room.

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A mannequin hand is repurposed as a lamp at Lightenstein’s booth for Strange Folk Festival.

Down the Rabbit Hole, founded in 2001 by Jen Guss, is a “wonderland” of vintage clothing and handbags as well as repurposed jewelry and décor, often constructed from antique baby dolls. It was the overwhelming support of family and friends that caused Guss to make the transition from giving her unique creations away as Christmas gifts to selling them for money and doing art shows.

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Down the Rabbit Hole showcases its unique, repurposed babydoll pieces at the 2017 Strange Folk Festival.

Motivated by the challenging political environment of the past year, Guss decided to donate 10 percent of all show sales she receives in 2017 to two local causes: Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri and House of Goods Baitulmal.

“I chose Planned Parenthood because I feel access to reproductive health is of the utmost importance, as well as proper sexual education for women,” Guss said.

House of Goods is a local organization, run by the Islamic Foundation in St. Louis, that helps provide help and resources to refugees and homeless in the city.

“A dear friend [of mine] helps run the organization,” Guss said. “She is a Muslim woman, married to a Bosnian refugee, who came to St. Louis as a child. Hearing the good work she does and the discrimination she has encountered made me want to help.”

Though her generosity to her community sets her apart from others, Guss is much like many of the indie artists that participated at Strange Folk: she is currently operating as a craft show vendor and working on increasing her online presence but hopes to someday open a brick and mortar shop where her creativity can live out its fullest potential.

Strangle Folk is an event that allows hundreds of up-and-coming makers like Guss to mingle with other natives, make connections and expand their businesses.

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