Beadapalooza draws big crowd

Dana McGowan and Roxy Rabb shop for beads at Beadapalooza 2012.

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Lifestyles Editor

The beading community came out in full force last weekend to support the seventh annual Beadapalooza in Helena.

Lora Lunsford, owner of Bead Biz, which sponsors the event, said she was pleased with the turnout.

“It’s great that everybody came out to support it,” she said.

About 15 vendors were set up in tents on Second Street. Visitors picked through strands of multi-colored and metallic beads hung from screens and laying on tables in the event area.

“We have vendors from all over the world,” Lunsford said. “These are kind of the best of the best of my vendors that I purchase from throughout the year.”

Lunsford said Beadapalooza benefits both the visitors and the vendors. Visitors are able to stock up on a wide variety of beads, including seed beads and Czech glass, while vendors are able to get an idea of what the public is interested in.

Shelley Ashley, wholesaler who was representing Nirvana Beads, said the event was a chance to predict trends.

“They help, especially when you’re in wholesales,” she said. “You get a feeling for the trends and fashions that are coming up.”

Cristie Prince of Glassy Jewels in Atlanta said she gets most of her trend ideas from magazines, but she was still excited to attend Beadapalooza.

She said current trends include Steampunk and “blingy” jewelry.

Prince said she teaches beading glasses at Bead Biz occasionally, and she wasn’t surprised by the turnout.

“There’s a whole big beading community worldwide,” she said.

Beadapalooza was held on Saturday and Sunday, and the first 50 paying customers received a goodie bag from Bead Biz.

Lunsford said Bead Biz offers classes throughout the year. She also started a Bead Therapy Club, a group for “serious beaders.” While her e-newsletter goes out to 2,000 people, she said she wanted to provide information to people who are dedicated to the craft.

The group will be offered discounts or coupons, as well as early showings of new merchandise.

For more information about The Bead Biz, visit