Blooming Bus Farms to host inaugural Bloomin’ Fest this month

Published 3:04 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2023

NILES — A local business will soon play host to more than a dozen small businesses from across Michiana.

Blooming Bus Farms, 2617 S. 17th St., is gearing up to host Bloomin’ Fest ‘23, its inaugural artisan market. The event will take place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, July 20 and will feature more than a dozen local artisans and vendors.

The idea for an artisan market was hatched by Kelly Bailey of Raw Oats Skincare and Melissa Rizzo, who co-owns Blooming Bus Farms with her husband, Jason as a way to support local small businesses and increase exposure for the farm, a U-pick farm that focuses on regenerative agriculture.

“My husband and I are creatives,” Rizzo said. “We had some events out here and thought it would be a perfect location for the market. We wanted something fun to do during the week because there are always so many competing things on weekends. Her and I brainstormed and she really took the reins. With her market experience, she was able to secure some great vendors. We’re pretty excited.”

“I participate in a lot of artisan markets and I told her that we should plan an event,” Bailey said. “It went from an artisan market to a full-fledged festival. It grew pretty quickly for our first event. We have a lot of friends in the small business community and we wanted to include them.”

In addition to the outdoor market, River of Life Yoga will be hosting a yoga event and live music will be on hand featuring Rebel Noire and The Accomplices and The Leftovers. There is also a u-pick flower field and there will be kits to make flower crowns. A photographer will also be on hand offering mini sessions. The farm has alpacas that guests will be able to interact with.

There will be a $5 admission fee while children under 12 are free.

A portion of proceeds will benefit One Good Deed Michiana, a nonprofit aiming to recognize Michiana residents making a difference in their communities. Founded by Allison Hayes Freeze-Shelton, the nonprofit also hosts charity events to raise money for local causes.

For Rizzo and Hayes Freeze-Shelton, the collaboration was the perfect fit.

“That just fills my heart,” said Rizzo of One Good Deed Michiana. “Doing things with purpose just makes sense. We like doing things we can feel warm and fuzzy about.”

“The Rizzos are amazing people and I’ve been amazed by what they’ve been able to do with their property,” Hayes Freeze-Shelton said. “It’s such a cute, cool hidden gem with so many things to do. I’ve always admired what they’re doing and I’m really happy for them…It’s a great opportunity. Being able to fundraise like this allows us to make a difference.”

Hayes Freeze-Shelton said that the event plans to serve beer, wine and soda at the event and that celebrity bartenders such as U93’s Big Perm, WNDU’s Lauren Moss, City of Niles Mayor Nick Shelton, B100’s Deb Miles, ABC57’s LeVon Whittaker and more. She will also be announcing the winner of the Robert Freeze Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship was created on behalf of Freeze to help college-bound students who reflect what the lateFreeze stood for. 

“We’re trying to spread the word,” Hayes Freeze-Shelton said. “This event will have a little something for everybody.”

Bailey and Rizzo believe that providing a festive Fall space to showcase local businesses makes the organizing worthwhile.

“We’re hoping it will be something to bring the community out and bring something new to Niles,” Bailey said. The hope is that we get a good turnout and that people make new connections.”

“This is really exciting for us,” Rizzo said. We’re looking forward to seeing a bunch of new faces, lots of new smiles and happy people.”

For more information, find the Bloomin’ Fest Facebook page. To nominate someone for One Good Deed Michiana, go to

A list of current Bloomin’ Fest vendors includes: 

  • A Bite With Mee
  • Olfactory Hue Express
  • Apothica Teas
  • Flourish Books and Plants
  • Red Lilac Studios
  • Betsy Rowe Art
  • Silverware By Misty
  • Undercover Popular
  • Crazy Craft Lady
  • Cast By Sage
  • Butter– A Bespoke Bakeshop
  • And Aubrey Was Studios
  • Forge On Decor
  • Mossy Moon Apothecary