A festival this Saturday will give young entrepreneurs a platform to showcase and sell their unique work.
Sunrise Project’s “Lit & Local – A Youth Makers Festival” is a community event for young people to express themselves and their creativity. Melissa Freiburger, executive director of the Sunrise Project, said around 20 youth vendors have signed up and community members are encouraged to come out, shop local and support.
Some items for sale include baked goods, jewelry, doggie treats and bandanas, pottery, sculptures, paintings and more, all handmade by creators between the ages of 12 and 18 in the Lawrence-Douglas County area.
The event is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 23 outside Sunrise Project, 1501 Learnard Ave. in Lawrence. Admission is free and no registration is needed.
The Sunrise Project is a nonprofit organization in Lawrence that fosters community programs, such as free meals, a garden and orchard, a porch pantry, and a variety of youth programs. The organization hosted a Lit & Local event back in 2018 with the help of an R&B artist, Shah, who at the time had lived and gone to school in Lawrence but has since graduated and begun building a musical career in the Kansas City area.
“It was really a great time. It brought youth together and gave them a platform that they wouldn’t otherwise have. Sunrise Project’s all about creating those connections and giving space for that,” Freiburger said.
The event was not able to continue into future years, partially because of the pandemic. But as this summer rolled in, Freiburger’s 14-year-old daughter, Goldy Stephens, suggested they finally bring it back, so she and other leaders got to planning.
Goldy, who led event planning and will be selling her handmade jewelry as one of the vendors, said she felt inspired to bring back Lit & Local after noticing a lack of free opportunities for young people to share their businesses and sell their creations out in the Lawrence community.
“There’s nowhere else here that you could do anything like this and feel welcome as much. This is really the only opportunity I think most people have to do this, and I thought it’d be a good idea,” Goldy said.
Vendors have no fee to set up their stations on Saturday. Goldy also said many vendors are choosing to donate a portion of their proceeds to nonprofit organizations.
Previews of some of the creators who will be featured at Lit & Local can be found on the Sunrise Project’s Facebook feed. One is Lawrence High School senior Victoria Bell, who recently won a $10,000 scholarship to support her dream of becoming a restaurateur.
Freiburger said the event is completely youth-led and youth-centered.
“It’s important that the young folks get the credit for taking this on. This is completely youth-led; we’re just following their lead,” Freiburger said.
Because of the wide range of creations for sale, it will be easy for patrons to find something within their interests and budgets, Freiburger said. There will also be refreshments provided.
Learn more about the Sunrise Project and how to get involved with its work at this link.
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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.