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Vendors working through cancelation of summer events

Posted at 6:10 PM, Apr 13, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — For vendors, the pandemic has destroyed the festival season.

"We were free to work as hard as we want and now we just don't have the opportunity, so its been extremely difficult," Jack Kolassa, owner of The Big Cheese, said.

In a normal year, Kolassa would be slinging grilled cheeses day and night all summer at festivals all over Western New York. Now, as he hears of more and more event cancellations, he's getting concerned.

"This is our livelihood, we are doing this for a reason and we are hoping there isn't a trickle effect going into the summer," Kolassa said.

It's what led Kolassa to plan a walk-up carnival food event the weekend of April 24th at the Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence, giving six vendors, including himself, a chance to sell.

"At a time where we don't know what the summer is going to look like, we're going to try and control what we can control and have this event early on and see how it goes," Kolassa said.

The cancellation of events like the Italian Heritage Festival, Allentown Art Festival, Canalfest and the Lewiston Jazz Festival isn't just hurting food vendors. For painters like Peter Kepton, those events are part of their livelihood.

"Oh yeah people rely on those events to make their yearly salary," Peter Kepton, owner of Water and Brush said.

It's meant that local markets have become more crucial. Rustic Buffalo Artisan Market in Tonawanda says that each time an event cancels, vendors call.

Sometimes when something is canceled in the same day we see an influx in applications coming in," Scott DeMott, co-owner of Rustic Buffalo Artisan Market, said.

So, to help, Rustic Buffalo Artisan Market will start its own outdoor market, every weekend from May until October, showcasing dozens of artists. They are hoping to give relief to these businesses during a normally busy time.

"We're very excited to be able to do this for them," DeMott said.