In early spring of 2019 I was contacted by the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce to help with – née, be a consultant – for their first-ever Tiny Home Festival. Because of the 2017 TinyHouseNC Street Festival, the 2018 TinyHouseNC Street Festival, my stint as a co-host of several other festivals around the country, and my history in the modern tiny house movement, I had seemingly become an authority in this realm. I was honored, to say the least. But I took caution because I knew it was going to be a lofty pursuit. The preceding 2-3 years had seen a huge growth in tiny house expos and festivals across the nation. It seemed like everyone was hosting a festival and every municipality wanted to cash in on the craze. Something about the group in OBX excited me though. They had a passion I hadn’t seen in a while and they had a desire to host the festival to show an area with a rapidly escalating housing problem what tiny houses had the ability to do. I joined the group and walked with them through the process of putting on a festival.
Set for June 8 and June 9 at the Soundside Event Site in Nags Head, OBX planned a show that would feature over a dozen, unique tiny homes, food trucks and more, including Perch & Nest, The Capable Carpenter, and others. A number of the companies and houses on display were also at the TinyHouseNC shows (multiple skoolies, a tiny beach house, a yurt, and even the Tiny Chapel Weddings chapel) and really represented a nice cross-section of North Carolina tinies. Karen Brown, President, and CEO of the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce, as well as other board members, met me at the 2018 TinyHouseNC Street Festival and knew if they were to have a festival they wanted me to be on board. The goal? Showcase new and innovative tiny homes in a festival setting in order to help foster ideas for housing solutions, raise money for the chamber and boost tourism before the height of the season.
To be honest the festival wasn’t the busiest one I have ever seen. Crowds weren’t snaking around the block. However, the weather was beyond beautiful, there was a steady stream of attendees, and the chamber was able to recoup their investment. It’s no wonder then that around February of this year I was again contacted by the Chamber in regards to a 2020 festival. They didn’t feel they needed me to consult as hands-on as I had the previous year but they wanted me to somehow be a part. I agreed to a small role on their festival committee and we had our first meeting in early March. About 10 days later COVID-19 started making headlines close to the United States and within days events were beginning to be canceled and skepticism about traveling and being in large groups ramped up. The chamber met again and decided that the festival this year should be canceled.
If you’ve never hosted a large event you may not know that there is a timeline to the opening of the actual event. At this time of year the OBX Chamber should/would be securing building companies, DIY houses, vendors, and even entertainment. But that growing skepticism was crippling people and very few were willing to commit. It was no one’s fault but a decision had to be made. There will be no 2020 Outer Banks Tiny Home Festival. It just isn’t the right time.
This doesn’t mean the chamber won’t return in 2021 and be ready to really showcase the state of North Carolina in a major way. It just means that this year people are better off staying at home (no matter what the size!), staying a bit isolated, and staying safe. It was a hard choice for the Chamber, I am sure. But they made the right decision and I look forward to supporting them in future years.