PALMER—During what many said felt like the first “real” day of summer, the second week of Friday Fling in downtown Palmer was in full spring.
All summer, every Friday, the small and cozy town comes to life, bustling with locals and tourists alike. From fresh produce to wood carved toys, Friday Fling is Palmer’s go-to community marketplace filled with fresh food, live music and labors of love.
Nancy Coyle retired from MEA four years ago. The MEA office is right downtown so she would often go to the Friday Fling on her lunch break with her coworkers. Now, Coyle is selling her homemade creations under the downtown atrium. She sells original fused glass decorations and alcohol ink canvases. She’s worked with fused glass for about 7 years but she just started dabbling with alcohol ink creations within the year.
“It’s a new addiction,” Coyle said. “I love how you can play around with colors and get different effects.”
She’s had a booth at the Friday Fling for five years and one of her favorite aspects is the people, meeting tourists and new locals while running into old friends and co-workers.
“It brings the people out,” Coyle said. “You start to see people you haven’t seen in a long time.”
Jake Brehm, a long time Palmer resident and massage therapist has been to many Friday Flings. He recalled a sweet and sentimental story from his past. He shared an anecdote from a particular shopping experience with his grandma. She took a fancy to a coffee mug nestled in a wooden, hand-carved mug holder. She asked the vendor how much the mug cost and he said it was just a display, something he bought at Walmart to demonstrate his creations. As she walked off, the old man looked at the mug, looked at her and grabbed it. The old man scurried slowly over and he gave her the mug.
“I was like, that guy is a day’gum angel,” Brehm chuckled.
Lindsey Barbee lives in her van and works as a full time festival artist. The nomadic crafter travels around the state working at various festivals, from small fairs like Friday Fling to big festivals like Salmonfest and Forest Faire, her biggest paydays. She dabbles in various arts but her “bread and butter” comes from face painting through her business, Original Doodle Body Art. She painted a fair amount of faces that day. She said the most popular requests are for Batman, unicorns, and princesses.
“Anything paint-related, I can do,” Barbee said.
This is the 16th year of Friday Flings and the first year Brittany Messman has taken the helm. There were about 70 vendors present that day and Brittany Messman hovered through all of them and busily kept up with the grounds.
“She’s here all day,” Coyle said. “She’s so helpful.”
Messman is known to man booths so the vendors can take breaks.
“Everyone needs a bathroom break,” Messman said.
Messman cantered about the vendors at Friday Fling, looking down the rows of tents.
“These are people’s dreams. Every tent is filled with dreams,” Messman said.
From family operations to solo endeavors, various walks of life convene at the Friday Fling and have a reputation for supporting each other, even competing merchants of the same or similar booths, according to Gilded Dragonfly Studio and Artistry owner, Emily Gelino-Bequette.
“If you make anything, there’s a small part of your soul in it,” Gelino-Bequette said.
She sells a variety of works from handmade jewelry to original paintings. She said that her mother/daughter duo next door work well with each other and with her. The neighbors often watch over each other’s booths when need be.
“We’re all supportive. We know each other’s struggles,” Gelino-Bequette said.
There’s a number of events lined up at the Friday Fling, including an author event and food preservation series. For more information, look up Friday Fling on Facebook.