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Kentucky Kernel

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What’s old is new again thanks to the Kentucky Vintage Festival

Vintage fever has taken over Lexington for a second time this year. 

Customers flooded the Kentucky Vintage Festival on Sept. 23, armed with large tote bags waiting to be filled to the brim with all kinds of vintage finds and unique pieces to take home and style.

The doors to the Central Bank Center opened to vendors at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, allowing vendors plenty of time to set up their shops, arrange their collections, decorate their displays and prepare for the rush of people awaiting the opening of the doors. Each vendor carted in their own unique style and creativity to the festival to share with other vendors and shoppers.

The Kentucky Vintage Festival housed over 75 vendors in the Central Bank Center, selling unique items such as vintage clothing, vinyl, home goods, jewelry and accessories to its attendees, according to the festival’s Instagram.   

The event brought in over 1,200 attendees to browse, shop, support small businesses and share the love for vintage items, according to festival co-founders Jared Wise and Nick Nardiello. 

The previous Kentucky Vintage Festival took place Sunday, March 19 of this year, housing over 60 vendors compared to this year’s larger amount. The event went so smoothly for everyone, Nardiello and Wise said, that they had to bring it back again. This time around, the festival was held during a weekend free from football games, so University of Kentucky students could attend without any conflict, unlike March’s festival, which saw students devoting their time to binging Kentucky men’s basketball games instead of being out and about.

“So we wanted to bring back the festival we hosted because of how smooth the first show went. Lots of vendors and customers asked ‘When’s the next one?’ This second time we really wanted to focus on targeting the college crowd, which I do believe was a success,” Wise said.

Since the festival was in Lexington, an item many shoppers were in search of was vintage UK apparel. Multiple vendors had predicted this, leading them to dedicate entire sections of their shops to the signature blue and white apparel, which customers could easily locate, drawing in all ages of Wildcat fans.

This was one of the main reasons Maddie Stark, a Kentucky native from Trimble County, came to browse. 

“I really wanted to look at all the vintage UK stuff and find some cool, unique UK pieces,” Stark said. 

With the new demand for vintage clothes, shoppers are searching for pieces with a history, pieces they have never seen on anyone else before. The push for shopping sustainable instead of supporting fast fashion has given thrifting the spotlight over the last few years, mentioned Marci Soukup, owner of the Vintage Vert.

“I have always loved unique items. I think what inspired me to start collecting was, I wanted to have something not everybody had. Something original and something that you can’t find in a big box shop,” Soukup said. 

Vendors also brought memories and stories to share alongside their items, expressing the deeper meaning their items had to them beyond being a tangible thing. 

Alondra Ahuatzi, co-owner of Enlazar, a permanent jewelry small business in Central Kentucky, explained how she put a piece of herself into each product she sells.

“With all of the chains that I offer, they’re named either after a family member or a pet,” Ahuatzi said. “So whenever someone brings up something like ‘Give me a Haley,’ it kind of reminds me of my cousin or my aunts. It’s kind of like a nice gesture to remember my family at each event.” 

The festival also gave people something different to do with friends. With such a wide variety of vendors and styles, there was something for everyone. 

Kayden Teffeteller drove all the way from Indiana for the festival. 

“I usually go to all the Louisville vintage flea markets and got really into vintage shopping. So I just came out with some friends to find some fun stuff,” Teffeteller said. 

With admission to the event, shoppers were encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to fill with their purchases. Unlike big box retailers, shoppers were not provided the typical plastic bags to fill their goods with. 

“I don’t buy hardly anything new, I think most people these days are very sustainably-minded. And I think that especially our generation is really conscious of how damaging fast fashion is,” said Katie Payne, owner of Reviisions Vintage. “Most of this is stuff I wear, it’s just my rotating closet.”

With the vintage aesthetic growing in popularity throughout the country, more and more people are beginning to seek out thrift stores to refurbish their closets and rework their typical styles.

“I think there has been a movement for the love of vintage items,” Soukup said. “The fact that we’re reusing and reducing, I think that has also encouraged more people to be comfortable going to thrift shops. Also watching thrifting not have as much as a stigma over it being just for a certain class of people and other assumptions people used to make is very encouraging.” 

In the future, the event may potentially take over Central Bank Arena again, bringing the vintage fever to Lexington for round three. 

Both Nardiello and Wise said they have a few creative ideas in the works to revive the vintage craze, including an outdoor show or even one on UK’s campus.  

“At the end of the day, it’s all about everyone having a good time and making it worth their time too,” Wise said.

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  • H

    HpmcveySep 26, 2023 at 3:49 pm

    Ky Vintage Fest is ALWAYS a great event. As a vendor, Penrose Vintage, I can’t say enough about the team of folks that run it. I so look forward to the next one. Thanks to all who came!

  • K

    Kentucky Vintage FestSep 26, 2023 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks So Much!