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Vintage Fest transports visitors to past decades in St. Jacobs

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For Alys Mak-Pilsworth, collecting vintage and retro items has been a life long passion.

“I’ve been that little kid where you get a donation of things, it's like a tickle trunk sort of thing and you spend all afternoon playing in them,” she said.

After accumulating a hefty collection throughout the years, Mak-Pilsworth knew she wanted to start selling her unique items.

“It's just a collection of vintage clothing. I do homewares too so anything like mugs, candlesticks…then I also do some made goods where it's like made from vintage textiles.”

Her dream to sell became a reality about a year ago when she set up her booth - Makeworth - at St. Jacobs Market.

“So I love that it's a celebration of the vintage and reusing things and using what you have and appreciating amazing design work,” she said.

Mak-Pilsworth, along with over 150 other vendors, celebrated all things retro over the May long weekend in the market district.

“Today we're hosting an outside workshop where you kind of learn about a screen print and then kind of offering a bit more of an interactive booth instead of just having a pop-up,” said Tugi Kaai, co-founder of Scndry Store.

A collaboration between the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market and KW Famous, Vintage Fest saw local performers, artists, vintage collectors and visitors flock to St. Jacobs for the second annual festival.

“We're trying to introduce antiques and vintage and all of that to the younger generation who have really embraced kind of upcycling,” said Joanna Loebach, general manager of St. Jacobs Market District. “It’s double the vendors this year and we have a lot more vendors coming from outside of the region as well. So definitely built on the success and the good word that came from last year.”

“When you put different artists together, they come up with such amazing things and they create relationships,” said Robin Lindner, founder of KW Famous.

Enthusiasts and curious visitors alike got the chance to immerse themselves in the charm and beauty of past decades.

“I love vintage collection,” said Kadeem Haughton, the DJ for Vintage Fest. “I love things with a certain aesthetic, especially from like the nineties and early eighties. I love bringing that back…and give it a new sense of life.”

From vintage fashion and antique markets to classic cars and live music, this festival had something for everyone.

“I honestly prefer vintage shopping in small towns,” said Ander Guillen who travelled in from Toronto. “You can also see designs that are just that are not done anymore.”

A celebration of the past, bringing a special connection to the present.

“Things that are used or have a story behind them…I feel like they have so much nostalgia and people really like that story as it represents a certain time,” Lindner said

Sustainability is in style

Both vendors and organizers of the festival say they’ve noticed an increased interest in vintage items among younger generations.

“They are so anti-fast fashion and wanting pieces that have a history or that have that quality built into them and it doesn't faze them that it's 30-years-old,” Loebach said. “All the better if it's been worn and loved by somebody else.”

Lindner believes a big part of the increased interest is because of the hope for a more sustainable future.

“I think a big part of this is that Waterloo region is aiming for a more sustainable city,” she said. “I think it's trending everywhere, upcycling and thrifting, and that's kind of never going to go away. But I think here, we really care about it and it shows through Vintage Fest.”

“We want to be able to supply local shops with our clothes and recycle, be a bit more conscious of where they come from,” Kaai said.

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