My Experience at TinyFest California 2022
It’s me, Alaska. Recently, I experienced TinyFest California 2022. Why would a tiny homeowner attend an event designed to inspire others to embrace simple living?
Well, it begins with why do I go by that online moniker, Tiny House Concierge. I wanted to identify myself as a resource for would-be tiny housers. Here’s the thing—once upon a time, I was you. I was just a woman who had fallen completely head-over-heels in love with a very small house. I had no idea what to do next and then proceeded to learn everything the hard way!
I would never want that to happen to you, which is why I now combine my background in real estate with my experience of living tiny to offer you my services as a tiny house concierge. It’s kind of like when you go on vacation; you are in totally new territory but want to have a good time. So, you go to the concierge to help you figure it out. And that’s exactly what I do! My services range from consulting to writing for fabulous publications like Tiny House Expedition’s blog—that you regularly follow, right??).
It’s all in pursuit of helping you make sense of and fall in love with the lifestyle that has brought me so much peace and joy.
Anyway, I am always looking for new avenues to explore and report back to you on, which is why I was unbelievably excited when I received a call asking if I’d be interested in emceeing this year’s TinyFest California!
Um. Yes, please!
TinyFest California 2020 - 1 week before the nationwide lockdown!
Friends, I LIVE for tiny house world, but thanks to a little inconvenience called Covid-19, I didn’t have a ton of tiny house festival experience heading into this event.
In fact, most of my festival experience can be attributed to raves I went to in college, which I’m not sure is relevant. And now that I’ve brought that up, no one tell my mother I ever left the house wearing an outfit like this one:
Long story short: I didn’t know what I was getting into with a tiny house festival, but I decided to follow the old tiny house adage: say yes and figure it out.
Anyway, here’s the story of my experience at TinyFest California 2022!
I arrive on-site in San Diego at The Del Mar Fairgrounds a day early. Friday is prep day for TinyFest California 2022, and the party will begin in the morning!
I wander around, lost, until a TinyFest staff member on a golf cart directs me to a giant warehouse. There, I happen upon a breakroom where I meet year-around professional TinyFest-ers.
I am handed a clearance badge of some sort and a parking pass. And then meet about ten people in a row who all have walkie-talkies and seem to be magically capable of having in-person and over-the-air conversations simultaneously.
Can I get a 20 on Renee?
One of them asks. And with that, I am swept away by a staff member because the time has come.
Ohmygod-ohmygod-ohmygod. Alaska, DoNOT panic.
This is what I tell myself.
But how can you NOT panic just a teensy bit when you are only fifty feet away from Renee McLaughlin, AKA The Creator of TinyFest??!
Ohmygod. I’d talked with her once on the phone, but now here we are in real life. She’s short- but not as short as me. She has brown hair, a simple baseball cap, and an extremely calm demeanor for someone who has clearly been asked a question every five seconds for the past month. This is the human behind all the festivals.
I have to pull it together, though, because the job begins immediately.
The stage is being set up over here, and you’ll be facing this way.
We need to secure presenters for the panel discussions; you’ll be helping with that as people check-in.
Here is a flash drive from the President of the Tiny House Industry Association. Definitely don’t lose that.
The rest of the afternoon is a whirlwind of production. I wander through the venue to the sounds of walkies crackling and the sharp, staccato beeps of tiny houses being backed into place.
In the warehouse, the stage is assembled and booths constructed. Outside, vanlifers, skoolie dwellers, and ambulance conversion enthusiasts pull their vehicles into position and begin living a vacay-vibe evening, as I imagine they do every day.
I weave through van-village as the sun sets. Everyone’s door is open, and dogs run free. Music is playing, and the station changes as I stroll from van to van. There are brand new Sprinters with wanderlust emblazoned on the sides and older ford models with thousands of stickers to match the thousands of stories their owners must have collected over the years.
At dusk, I grab my bag from the breakroom and head back to the hotel to rest up before the festivities begin. The smell of hotdogs and incense trails me all the way to the exit.
I arrive back on-site an hour before showtime. Outside, tiny house builders hurriedly set the finishing touches on the model homes. There are tiny houses on wheels, pop-up container offices, and even a two-story tiny house on wheels that I can’t wait to see the inside of.
In the warehouse, long aisles are decorated with tiny house vendors of all kinds. There are booths for composting toilets and ones hosted by ADU (accessory dwelling unit) conversion specialists. There are tiny house builders, tiny house community creators, and even a booth where you can make a personalized tiny house sign. Off to the right is the stage, encircled by a heavy black curtain so the speakers’ voices will be heard. That’s where I’ll be. Soon enough.
It’s fifteen minutes to showtime. The tech guru walks confidently back and forth across the stage, tightening wires and adjusting camera lenses. After a quick meeting with the tech-human, I excuse myself to shellac before it all begins.
As I stand in front of the bathroom mirror putting on lipstick and making my hair as big as possible, I am privy to the conversations of soon-to-be tiny housers. Over the barriers of the stalls, they talk excitedly about their tiny plans for the future, and I can’t help but be swept up in their excitement. In fact, the whole thing makes me tear up just a little bit because I know what they don’t yet: that this life is even better than they imagine.
But I can’t cry because it’s time to go on stage. And also, mascara.
For the next two days, I introduce speakers who have traveled from far and wide to share their knowledge with festival-goers. When I’m not facilitating the introductions, I sit spellbound on the sidelines soaking in all the information. I learn more about solar power than I could have ever thought to ask.
A gentleman who specializes in ambulance conversion makes so many good points that I basically decided to buy one on the spot. When Dan Fitzpatrick, President of the Tiny House Industry Association, takes the stage, I have to pinch myself a little bit because there is just somuchgreatness in one room.
As Saturday bleeds into Sunday, I feel like this festival is all I’ve ever known. In between presentations, I walk through the crowd with a bullhorn advertising the next speaker. The smell of soft pretzels wafts through the air, and in the center of it all, aerial artists and stilt walkers defy gravity, assuring us that we have definitely left regular life behind.
My Experience at TinyFest California: Mixed Feelings
After the final presentation on Sunday, I walk through the tiny village one more time. Pink streaks blend the California palm trees together and whatever people are burning now is stronger than incense.
I watch the tiny dwellers play cornhole and roll about casually on their hoverboards. Kids and dogs get their energy out one last time before bed. A wash of sadness comes over me then. I don’t want to leave this place. I want to stay here with all the sun-soaked and tanned people.
But then I remember something incredible: I am one of them now. When the work week starts up again, I won’t go back to an office or a job I find unfulfilling. Instead, I will go back to my tiny house and spend my day doing what I love: being a tiny house concierge.
As I take one last look at the faces of the tiny dwellers, I have to wonder if I look like them now. Has my year-and-a-half of living tiny erased the worry lines on my forehead? Has the stress-puffiness from a life that was too big left my eyelids? When other people pass me, do they feel the same wave of calmness that I feel when I pass by a tiny houser? I hope so.
Well, Friends, that was TinyFest California, 2022!
To all those who made the event happen, you’re epic! Thanks for inviting me to participate in the fun.
If you’ve gone tiny, thank you for all you’ve done to fuel the movement forward. And if you’re someone who’s thinking about it, thank you for that too. Your curiosity is more powerful than you know.
I wish all of you well, and I’ll be back soon. Thanks for listening.
Viva la TinyFest!
P.S. If you couldn’t make it to TinyFest California this year, you should know that TinyFest events are held all across the county, all year round! You can follow the fun on social media, and who knows, maybe I’ll see you at the next one!
Alaska is a writer, realtor, and tiny homeowner living in the great state of Colorado. She is the founder of The Tiny House Concierge, a company that offers consultation and copywriting services for people looking to rethink their housing and rewrite their lives. In addition to her website, she can be found on Instagram and YouTube.
Have you ordered our book yet?
Learn the history of the modern movement, get a breakdown of tiny home styles, and meet the passionate tiny community. Also, The Beginner's Guide to Tiny Houses discusses the pros and cons of micro-living―is a tiny house right for you, right now?
What people are saying:
"Most books about tiny homes are really just about the fantasy, with beautiful pictures in far-off places, but they don't tell you how to get from point A to point B. That's where this book comes in and fills in all the gaps!"