Congratulations to Friends of the Babbitt Public Library, winners of the 2023 Evy Nordley Award for Best Project by Friends. Babbitt (pop. 1,380) is one of the smallest communities to ever earn MALF’s highest prize –– which goes to show that exemplary, innovative Friends work happens within groups and towns of all sizes!

Synopsis: Nestled at the eastern edge of the Iron Range, Babbitt usually doesn’t qualify as a mecca for commerce or the arts. The exception is a special weekend each June, when the Friends of Babbitt Public Library hosts its annual Up North Craft & Vendor Extravaganza.

On Saturday, June 3, nearly two dozen handicraft vendors accepted an invite extended by The Friends to sell their wares in the Babbitt Municipal Gym. Hundreds of visitors from across the Arrowhead Region followed suit for festivities which raised money for the Babbitt Public Library.

In all, The Friends committed just $500 towards project implementation (along with an almost incalculable number of volunteer hours). Purchases included a commercial-grade hotdog roller, an investment they wagered would pay for itself after just one or two special events.

Friends leader Kathleen Graber shared that revenue came out to $1,100 in total, making for a profit margin of $600 – a sizable sum for a town and library the size of Babbitt. "We expect this to be one of our most profitable fundraisers of the year,” eclipsing their annual book sales, Graber shared.

The Friends hope to establish the summer Up North Craft & Vendor Extravaganza a community staple, and that positive word of mouth will mean next year’s incarnation offers even more vendors, visitors, and visibility for Babbitt Public Library.

Click here to read more about the project, and here to hear Graber present on the conception and implementation of the Up North Craft & Vendor Extravaganza.

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