For Dawn Ash, the owner of the Wicked Botanist, selling house plants via Facebook started off as a hobby. That was until she opened a storefront in Bethlehem in March 2021.
After recently opening another storefront in Kutztown, The Wicked Botanist hosted its second annual fall plant festival, with an estimated 4,000 people in attendance.
The Lehigh Valley Wicked Plant Festival took place at the SteelStacks on Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The first festival was held last fall, and another was held this past spring.
Ash said she was inspired to hold the event because of the frequency of festivals held in Bethlehem. She said she is a regular participant in a Facebook group that connects people interested in plants within the Lehigh Valley.
“It’s one of the most unique (festivals) in the (Lehigh) Valley because there really isn’t another plant festival around here,” said Elizabeth Causton, a volunteer with the Wicked Botanist. “If you’re a vegetable person, a regular flower (person), a novice or a rare plant person, you can really find a variety of everything here.”
The festival featured 75 vendors, who vendors sold a variety of goods, including plants, pottery, herbs, glass art, 3D printed items, shirts, stickers, paintings, macrame, metal art, jewelry and candles.
“My brand and my vibe is very earthy,” Ash said. “It has a witchy feel to it for sure, and earthy and nature based. We like things that have to do with nature bringing everything back to a more natural environment, and then plants just kind of fit into that.”
She said there was a section at the festival dedicated to plant cuttings, where people could swap cuttings and share with others.
Causton said the event had a great turnout.
Ash said the festival was advertised primarily through word of mouth.
“There is definitely a community that appreciates nature in a more organic way, not so much in a commercial way,” Ash said. “The type of people that come together for this festival are people that really don’t have another way to come together, other than events like this.”
Kristen Naab, owner of Easy Growin Designs, a custom succulent and air plant creation business, said a niche group of people attended the festival.
This was Naab’s second time as a vendor at the festival.
“I’ve been (attending) markets for probably eight years selling my stuff, and I recently moved here from California,” Naab said. “The market in the spring was my first market on the East Coast, and it was great. It had such a good turnout that I decided to do it again.”
Some vendors decorated their stands in hopes of winning “best decorated stand,” which was voted on within the Facebook group.
“I love how they did a witch theme around (the festival),” Bethlehem resident Ty Versocki said.
After being unable to attend the spring festival, Versocki attended the event alongside his wife and mother-in-law.
The festival boasted six food vendors, including Bananarama, Buck’s BBQ, Cousins Maine Lobster, Mack Truck Stop, The Flying V and We Squeeze to Please.
Singer Seth Witcher, aerialist Stevie Slaymaker and various drag queens provided entertainment at the festival.
Ash said the festival is The Wicked Botanist’s primary focus, in terms of events that they host.
“A plant is something you can have for 20 years,” Ash said. “Whatever has happened, you can still look at that plant and know that that plant came from something that was special to you, and you can share it with your children or people, other people who are special to you.”
The Wicked Botanist will host another plant festival in the spring on May 7. The location is yet to be determined.
Ash said she will start advertising for their next festival as soon as the current one ends.