For Immediate Release:
October 8, 2021
Amy Webb, Chief of Communications & Community Engagement
Gavin Lesnick, Deputy Chief of Communications
Event Promotes Community Connections And Employment Opportunities For Clients Of The Division Of Developmental Disabilities Services
(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — Artisans and vendors from around the state packed part of Main Street on Friday for the 5th annual Fall Food and Craft Fair sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS). There were more than 20 vendors and ten food trucks on site for the event.
• DOWNLOAD: Photos and video from this year’s event
Items sold at the fair were made by DDS clients and included handmade rugs, magnets, artwork, holiday wreaths, cards, decorative signs and more. All proceeds go back to the artists.
“We have a lot of crafters that love to make items,” said DDS Director Melissa Stone. “They’re so proud of the work that they do. And they make beautiful items – they’re gorgeous. And so they are just so excited to tell you about how they made them, talk about all the love they put in them, and then see you pay for them. It’s just such a blessing to them to be appreciated for what they’ve been working on.”
DDS provides funding for community and facility-based services to thousands of Arkansans. The Division also operates five residential Human Development Centers in Arkadelphia, Booneville, Conway, Jonesboro, and Warren, which are home to nearly 1,000 clients.
The Division’s mission is to work with clients so they can be as independent as possible and have a high quality of life, Stone said.
This is the fifth year the fair has been held, and the first since 2019.
“Everyone I’ve talked to is just so happy to have a little normalcy,” Stone said. “(The artists) been crafting this whole time. That didn’t stop. So we have a lot of items out here that they have been making over probably the last 18 months.”
Photos, video footage, and sound bites from Stone speaking about the fair can be downloaded here.
The fair also featured games and several local food trucks. The food trucks at the fair included Kool’s BBQ, Nach Yo’ Nachos, Juicy J, JMG Grilling, The Boil, Haygood’s BBQ, Peace of Mind Smoked Meats, Cheesecake on Point, and Loblolly Creamery.
While the fair is held only once a year, items made by DDS clients are available year-round at The Blue Umbrella gift shop. The store is located at 700 Main St. in Little Rock and is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Learn more about The Blue Umbrella here.