Wichita Women's Fair: A Labor of Love
The Wichita Women’s Fair is not just another trade show. Its purpose isn’t to push a product or to make a quick buck and it certainly isn’t an easy task.
Instead, the Women’s Fair is a labor of love.
"Good to be done" in Wichita
Long-time friends Chris Veazey Brown and Deanna Wheeler founded the Women’s Fair 20 years ago and, though both women had extensive backgrounds in event planning, production and marketing, the fact that there was a market for such an event in Wichita was not what drew them to the idea.
“We realized that there was a lot of good to be done if we could create the perfect format for a women’s event,” Brown said.
The 2018 Women's Fair
The 20th annual Wichita Women’s Fair Feb. 16-18 at Century II will be a three-day celebration featuring a multitude of shopping opportunities in addition to cooking demos by local chefs, a motivational speaker, daily fashion and hair shows, health screenings, and a new karaoke contest. Friday evening is again Girl’s Night Out featuring wine and restaurant food tastings, cooking shows, a door prize, shopping spree and a girlfriend photoshoot contest.
Fair hours are noon to 8 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for children 6-12. Children 5 and under are free
Appealing to all Women
Together, Brown and Wheeler worked tirelessly to create an event that would benefit the community as much as possible. Investing countless hours in the project, the two found a perfect balance, tailoring the event specifically to women without excluding any of them. It was important to Brown and Wheeler to create an event that would appeal to all women in all stages of life. According to Brown, finding that balance was actually pretty simple.
“Generally speaking, most women like the same things no matter what age or stage of life they are in. We all like to be healthy, feel great, look our best, to learn new and interesting things, be entertained and have fun,” Brown said. “I see 17-year-old granddaughters with their moms and grandmothers all having fun together at our show. They’re just having a girl’s day out together. There are not a lot of events that cater to that wide range of attendees. We’re very proud of that!”
It’s this kind of inclusion that makes the event so unique, bringing together the women in our community, no matter what their age, background or occupation, and allowing them to develop common ground, to bond and to connect.
The Women's Fair Continues to Grow
The meticulous planning and execution of the event have paid off for its founders, who are currently making the final preparations for the 20th annual Wichita Women’s Fair. In the two decades since its inception, the event has seen tremendous growth.
Met with overwhelming interest, the event now draws between 14,000 and 16,000 in attendance each year. Featuring about 300 businesses and 385 exhibits, the show is highly sought after, drawing exhibitors from across the country.
“They hear what a great show this is and call us asking to be in it! It’s wonderful for us and also brings new products, ideas and trends to our audience. It makes for a great mix of local and out-of-state businesses and boutiques,” Brown said.
Coordinating an event this size is a big undertaking, and according to Brown, planning the event takes all year.
“We usually have a pretty leisurely spring and summer up to about July, then the show progressively needs more attention. Right now, we’re working seven days a week.”
Economic Benefits for the Community
As the Fair continues to grow, it benefits the community more and more.
“Economically, the Women’s Fair generates dollars for our community in many ways,” Brown said. “Out-of-state vendors pay sales tax for everything sold at our show. They stay at our hotels, see a little night life and eat out while in town. Wichita-area businesses sell products, introduce new services, launch businesses, draw new clients to their place of business. Anytime you provide a marketplace where people and consumers come together, there will be immediate and long-term benefits for all,” she explained.
Reaping the Reward
Brown is very proud of the hard work she’s put into the show and she legitimately enjoys her work.
“Living your life is a big deal. It is not just something to get through. In all of the jobs I’ve done, I don’t think I started out to do something I loved to do, but when I start something, anything, I make it fun, purposeful, honest and something that reflects who I am and what I value. Only then can I say I love it,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a big job to do this. I think it is the attitude towards the job that makes it into something to love.”