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2018 Tiny House Fest Vermont

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Brattleboro Tiny House Fest grows into big ideas

Brattleboro, Vermont — Tiny House Fest Vermont (THFV) began with 5,000 attendees in 2016. As the festival grows, so does its engagement with not-so-tiny ideas. On Saturday, June 23, in downtown Brattleboro, up to 30 houses will be on view, and over 35 presenters will celebrate design while asking how the tiny house movement can change communities for the better.

TH Village

View of the Pop up Tiny House Village in downtown Brattleboro. While Hurricane Harvey passed through the area, the number of houses and attendees who came to tour tiny houses and see presenters increased over the year prior. Credit: Liz Lavorgna, Core Photography

This year, national leaders Rural Studio (based in Alabama) and Dee Williams (Portland, Oregon), among others, will bring meaningful inquiry to the summer celebration. The event is intended to build momentum across silos of interest toward a vision of what new person-centered communities can look like.

The Paper Boat

Fest Co-founder, Erin Maile O’Keefe opened her own tiny home to attendees of the Local Tiny House Tour, offered the day after the fest in 2017. O’Keefe designed her tiny home in a course offered by Yestermorrow Design Build School and worked alongside hired builders to complete the build. She currently occupies the house full time with her husband, Kevin O’Keefe. Credit: Liz Lavorgna, Core Photography

“We are rebounding…” co-founder Lisa Kuneman says of the explosion in interest in tiny homes. “The last hundred years have followed a trend of living spaces that promote unhealthy levels of isolation and waste. Tiny living is a response to this, and the Fest is a celebration of the creativity of this movement.”

PEBL Better Bike

“The PEBL is a four season velomobile bridging the gap between a bike and a car.” (from Better Bike’s website). For some, an interest in tiny houses comes from an interest in sustainability, and/or greater connection with the natural environment. The weather at Fest 2017 proved an opportunity to test Better Bike’s project to make bicycles an all weather alternative to the automobile. Credit: Liz Lavorgna, Core Photography

Fest founders have joined with new organizing partner Yestermorrow Design/Build School, increasing the festival’s reach and focus on what tiny home experiences can teach the average citizen, town or suburb about maintaining livable and welcoming public spaces. Together, THFV organizers aim to solidify Vermont’s place as a vanguard state in the movement to “reimagine human spaces.”

EPSON scanner image

headshot, courtesy Dee Williams

The featured speakers at the Fest exemplify this. According to Claire Gear, Director, Yestermorrow Design/Build School, “The founders of Rural Studio have heroically taken on the issue of affordability and have a foundational belief that beautiful, functional architecture should be accessible to all.”


Holly Bartel inside her full time dwelling as part of the first Local House Tour presented by Tiny House Fest Vermont in 2016 Credit: Liz Lavorgna, Core Photography

Also presenting is tiny house icon Dee Williams, who built one of the first tiny homes on wheels in 2004, and has “lived small” ever since. Dee’s house, life and memoir The Big Tiny have been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CBS This Morning, Slate.com, Yahoo.com, Yes Magazine, and the National Building Museum, to name just a few.


Tiny House Fest 2016. With sunny weather and 12 tiny houses to tour, the first fest was organized in a few months by co-founders Betsy Hall, Lisa Kuneman and Erin O’Keefe. Credit: Jeff Woodward Photography

Erin Maile O’Keefe, a co-founder of Tiny House Fest Vermont, says that “Dee Williams tells a personal and poignant story of how she decided to reboot her life when the conventional American dream failed her. A major health crisis made her question what she valued most. Along the way, she downsized her home and upsized her connections and joy!”


Owner Domenic Mangano in the doorway of a Jamaica Cottage Shop tiny house at the Fest. Mangano lived in his car before he started building sheds for a living. Upgrading to building tiny houses has put him in touch with a steady flow of people who hope that a tiny house will provide access to housing they can afford and maintain. THFV Presenting sponsor in 2018, JCS plans to bring 3 tiny house models to the fest this year.

As the fest’s focus deepens into examining issues that shape the movement’s emergence and growth, interest in collaboration and sponsorship has grown. “It simply makes sense that options inspire dreams and can help attain affordable living.” Vermont based tiny house builder Domenic Mangano of Jamaica Cottage Shop decided support the fest’s transition from a bootstrapped idea to the next level because organizers bring the event’s lens to the issues he hears from customers who visit his shop to tour and buy tiny homes.

10.14.11 024 domenic

headshot, courtesy Domenic Mangano

It’s worth checking out the lineup of presentations to get a sense of this movement to change the housing market and increase options for inclusion, personal autonomy and decency: https://tinyhousefestvermont.com/the-schedule/.


Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 23, Flat Street (downtown) Brattleboro VT

Tiny House Fest Vermont is about bringing together the curious and the committed, the wonk and the wonderer, the builder and the architect, the maker and the buyer to celebrate the creativity and possibilities that tiny houses initiate.
Check out up to 30 houses, over 35 presenters, Speed design reviews (bring your own!), the maker space, parklet designs and more.

Details and tickets: tinyhousefestvermont.com

News Release – Tiny House Fest Vermont

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
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