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Fall Food & Craft Fair promotes community connections and Employment Opportunities for Clients of The Division of Developmental Disabilities Services

10/07/2022

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — Artisans and vendors from across the state packed part of Main Street on Friday for the 6th annual Fall Food and Craft Fair sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS). There were more the 20 vendors and eight food trucks on site for the event. 

• Link to event photos here.

Items sold at the fair were made by DDS clients and included magnets, hand-woven rugs, artwork, holiday wreaths, mugs, decorative signs, and more. All proceeds go back to the artisans. 

“We have a lot of creative crafters that love to make items,” said DDS Director Melissa Weatherton. “They are so proud and love the work they do. The items they make are incredibly stunning. They are so excited to tell you about how they made them and the amount of love they put in them. It’s just such a blessing to them to be appreciated for what they’ve been working so hard 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, Weatherton said. 

This is the sixth year the fair has been held, and this year’s fair included a new co-sponsor – Empower Healthcare Solutions.

“Empower is delighted to support the 6th Annual Fall Food and Craft Fair, featuring crafts by many clients of DDS whose vision is to help ensure Arkansans with developmental disabilities and delays get access to services to help them learn and thrive,” said Mitch Morris, Empower CEO.  

The fair also featured games and several local food trucks. The food trucks at the fair included Kool’s BBQ, JMG Grilling, Cheesecake on Point, Nach ‘Yo Nachos, Juicy J Chicken and Fish, The Breezy Scoop, Frizo’s Exotic Eatery, and Bread N Butta.  

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.

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