The heat didn't keep people away as Headwaters Park West opened its gated doors for the Meijer Marketplace at the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival.
Tents big and small covered the grass. Besides their colorful and, at times, downright odd merchandise, the tents also housed the sellers. Many of them live partially nomadic lives, with hometowns scattered across the country.
Although not stationary, the job offers perks. “We get to meet people from every corner of the world,” said Gene Duran of Indianapolis as he stood near his twirling wind spinners.
The Meijer Marketplace - open daily through Sunday - offers a bit of everything. Traditional items like purses, dresses and sunglasses make an appearance. But other, more unique products also find their place.
Sprawled out on Pat Sharp's tables are numerous, sparkling examples of mineral art. Some stones are cut and shaped as jewelry, while others have words written on their smooth surfaces.
Sharp knows a good mineral from a dud. Once a year, Sharp, of Floyds Knobs, travels to the Brazilian mines to handpick the stones. A first-time seller at the festival, her favorite parts of the job include “going to Brazil,” she said with a laugh, “and meeting the people.”
A few tents away sits Felicia Ogundipe. Her items are as diverse as the nations they come from.
“Everything is from different countries,” she said. Purses of all colors share space with a large collection of jewelry. Their neighbors include canes, carved statues and African masks.
For those who want to literally take their purchases anywhere, two types of tattoo tents are set up. Neither involves needles.
Henna tattoos are painlessly drawn with what looks like an oversized pen. As it moves across skin, it leaves behind an all-natural mixture of plant powder. That mixture soon flakes off, leaving swirls and twirls of orange lines in its place. The tattoos can last for up to two weeks.
On the other side of the park is the Body Pizzazz tent, offering airbrush tattoos. No amount of coaxing from his mother could persuade 5-year-old Cory Minor to pick the design of a heart with the word “mom” in the center. He wanted a “big kid” tattoo.
After making his selection, airbrush artist Jennifer Diamond of Atlanta went to work. First, she rubbed his arm with alcohol. Next, she used a gun that looked like an actual tattoo gun — but without the needle — to shoot mists of paint.
Soon a black-and-red pirate skull formed on Cory's forearm. Diamond finished the tattoo with a dash of baby powder to dry the paint and help keep it in place for up to three weeks.
Not all the tents have something to sell. A few simply want to make Fort Wayne a better place. Jennifer Terlosky handed out pamphlets about the disposal of grease, oil and mercury. Her goal is to “get the word out,” she said, and “reduce the amount of grease in the city sewers.”