The second annual Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) Fall Food and Crafts Fair was defined by good times, laughter, big smiles, and a mission accomplished.
Presented in a block-party style format at the DHS Central Offices in Little Rock, the Fall Festival allowed individuals with developmental disabilities to sell their crafts.
Each of Arkansas’s five Human Development Centers (HDC) were represented. Additionally, seven community providers had booths at the festival.
Among the items sold were coaster sets, sugar scrubs, wreaths, hand woven rugs, fruits, vegetables, snow globes, Christmas ornaments and decorations, faith-based home décor, bird houses, and various paintings.
The event also featured several food trucks and a pair of auctions in which the clients’ crafts were bid upon.
“Hosting the festival in front of the office provided more space for everyone. We were able to accommodate more vendor booths and food trucks this year,” said DDS Program Administrator, Yvette Swift. “The variety of provider vendors was a hit. The HDC mini Farmer’s Market and the celebrity auction – featuring Roger Scott and Rex Nelson – were crowd pleasers. The weather was perfect and we had zero incidents.”
Several clients and administrative staff from the HDCs – which are located in Booneville, Arkadelphia, Jonesboro, Conway, and Warren – enjoyed the jovial nature of the festival.
“This event helped instill an additional sense of pride into our residents,” said AHDC Interim Superintendent Johnathan Jones. “Our residents always enjoy getting out into the community. The Fall Festival was a great opportunity for them to go out and interact with others.”
BHDC Superintendent Jeff Goneya, was proud to observe his clients selling their popular hand-woven rugs.
“It was a great experience for our clients and staff,” Gonyea stated. “The event was a great setting for clients to sell to the public. We gained a lot of exposure for our rug program which is a direct benefit to our clients.”
“Our residents who attended the festival are still talking about how much fun they had,” said CHDC Superintendent, Sarah Murphy. “It was wonderful to see them interacting with attendees and shoppers. Our residents were proud of the products they sold. They truly did a fantastic job. They demonstrated a sense of pride in their work and accomplishments.”
The social development aspect of the festival and the overall happiness of the clients impressed SEAHDC Interim Superintendent Mark Wargo.
“Events like the fall festival provide our residents with the opportunity to expand their social circle while developing the vocational skills they need to be more independent and self-sufficient,” Wargo said.
JHDC Superintendent Steven Farmer was also excited to see his clients embrace the festival’s atmosphere.
“The social interactions create “normal rhythm of life” experiences. It adds value to their human experience,” he stated. “Clients enjoy a relaxed environment interacting with staff and others in a non-therapeutic environment. But also, they receive a reward for their hard work when people purchase their products.”