I am a former supporter of the anti-corporate ethic of the Strange Folk festival, and a former vendor. The festival began as a few booths with local craftspeople and O’Fallonites supporting the arts, a charming alternative to the big box stores surrounding the community.
When we were vendors, we did not have much interaction with festival founder Autumn Wiggins at all, but saw Jodi Caticchio, chairman of the O’Fallon Arts Commission, and other volunteers throughout the park. We became disenchanted with the festival as it grew from a local community event to an over-priced show with vendors from mostly out of state, charging more than we were comfortable charging for their hipster T-shirts and trinkets.
It was no surprise when Wiggins announced her decision to take a break from the festival, as she felt taken advantage of by the city of O’Fallon and “burned out” on the whole process. Also, the city of O’Fallon would not be able to have the show, as it was hers with a capital “H.” Next came the smear campaign against the city of O’Fallon in which all of Wiggins’s mouthpieces denigrated our town and posted their encouragement that she “fight the good fight” against “the man” (for the rights to trademark and commodify the DIY aesthetic. Mother Jones would be rolling in her grave).
“The man” successfully banished, the gnome trademarked and ready to make the big money, Wiggins has announced that all of her “Strange” folks should follow her across the river. Of course, it was never about the money.