By Jade Ruggieri
Sneakers. Shopping. Scrumptious food.
On Aug. 21, the third Vintage Fest will be held from noon-8 p.m. at Edith Barill Riverfront Park in Star City, offering all things vintage, from clothes to shoes. Food trucks will be on site to snack while you shop.
With 40 clothing vendors, Vintage Fest was started a year ago by Nathaniel Hart, owner of Gallery 304 on High Street. Hart said he saw a need for people to be able to find vintage clothing in person, as opposed to shopping online. At the first Vintage Fest, crowds were lined up before the event started and it continues to grow each time.
“I’m hoping this one has even more people than the second one had,” Hart said. “There’s going to be really good food; I added a few vendors who will have sneakers and there will be a good mix of vintage clothing. From band tees or West Virginia merchandise, there’s going to be a lot of diversity and vendors from Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania, so they bring different things.”
As a Morgantown native, Hart saw the need for a growing interest in vintage apparel. At 12 years old, Hart started selling vintage sneakers online and made it his goal to open his own store.
If someone is on the fence about going to Vintage Fest, Hart recommended giving it a try.
“I would suggest going because I think anyone who is interested in vintage clothing or sneakers, they’ll probably find something they like,” Hart said. “You can also get to meet new people or get to know the vendors. It’s a good event for people who’ve been into vintage for years, or someone new.”
Hart’s favorite part about Vintage Fest is he gets to find new things to buy for himself, or even for Gallery 304. And through the various vendors coming together, vintage business owners get to create a community made up of people from different areas.
The distinction between vintage and thrifting, Hart said, is that vintage shopping is usually a hand-picked curation of the best items someone can find. Thrifting, on the other hand, is more of a gamble.
“Vintage shopping is different from regular shopping because every new piece of clothing that is not purchased is good, so it won’t end up in a landfill by finding the items a new home,” Hart said. “Plus, there’s the upside that it’s unique. You’re not going to walk down the street and see someone wearing the same shirt.”
Hart said the support from the community has been affirming, since he puts a lot of work and time into planning this event.
“I’m very appreciative of everything. Everyone who vends at Vintage Fest and the people shopping — everyone who comes out contributes to it. I’ve had people who were previously shopping at Vintage Fest and now reach out to me saying they want to be a vendor.”
Hart said he is excited more people are becoming interested in vintage wear, as well as using the festival to help small businesses build a platform. As Hart rises to the challenge of hopefully holding more Vintage Fests, he hopes people will keep asking, “When is the next one?”
“This event gets a lot of people exposed that they don’t usually get access to,” Hard said. “In Morgantown, there’s not a ton of stuff, but there’s still a demand for vintage, so I feel like this can be people’s first or best experience when it comes to vintage clothing.”
To learn more about Vintage Fest, visit gallery304 on Instagram or their website, gallery304.com.