Annual Christmas craft fair goes virtual

The annual Hilo Christmas Extravaganza Craft Fair is going virtual this year with a Facebook Live event scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.

Kim Sasaki of Malamapono Events decided to cancel the in-person craft fair in an effort to keep vendors and the community safe from the potential spread of COVID-19.

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The event will feature more than 30 vendors. The vendors submitted videos that will show off their work and what they have for sale. Customers can then reach out to the sellers to purchase anything they might want.

“This event will help vendors showcase their art and help customers gauge who they may want to buy from this year,” Sasaki said. “It will be up to the customer and vendor to follow through with the sale afterward.”

The Extravaganza usually features more than 100 vendors and brings in 4,500 people over the span of two days.

“I didn’t know what to do, but I wanted to give artists a venue to get in touch with customers before the holidays,” Sasaki said. “Many artists have lost out on a lot this year since our big events, like Merrie Monarch, have been canceled.”

Although the virtual show will go live Friday, the video will remain up on the Hilo Christmas Extravaganza Craft Fair’s page for shoppers to watch anytime.

Momi Ahu owns Designs by Momi and will be one of the vendors showcasing her work during the event.

“I am excited and interested to see how this will go,” Ahu said. “It has been a tough year without craft fairs, because they are probably the biggest part of my income.”

Ahu’s daughter helped her start an online Etsy shop to help alleviate the lost income this year. She also helped Ahu prepare for the virtual fair.

“I really feel for older vendors that don’t know how to start an online shop or navigate the internet,” Ahu said. “I’m not good with gadgets myself, so I know it can be difficult.”

Sasaki is hopeful that customers who normally shop at the craft fair will show up for the virtual event this year.

“I miss interacting with customers and other vendors during these craft fairs,” Ahu said. “It’s nice we have this opportunity to try to reach out to everyone.”

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The Facebook Live event will air on Friday at 7 p.m. at https://www.facebook.com/malamaponoevents/.

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com