Lights strung from a barn illuminate the night sky as vendors, community members and small businesses come together for a fundraiser supporting Camp Quality Northwest Missouri on Friday, Sept. 20 at Dot Family Farms.

In a crowd of vendors and small business booths, people came in touch with the simple side of life. Resting under the night sky, attendees enjoyed live country music and savory eats from picnic tables sitting atop Missouri Ryegrass, an early fall scene of hay bales and pumpkins surrounding them.

The Dot Family Farms hosted the second Rust Under the Stars event, put on by Melissa Campbell, small business owner of RUST, a business taking old “rusty” things and making new use of them. The event took place outside of Maryville, Missouri, near state highway 46 for the second time Sept. 20 and 21, where vendors, small businesses and citizens pay to attend. All proceeds go to Camp Quality Northwest Missouri.

Last year the event raised $6,000 for Camp Quality, a summer camp for children diagnosed with cancer. Its mission is “letting kids with cancer be kids again.” The non-profit organization provides camping experiences like archery, fishing, crafts, horseback riding, water activities and many other experiences. The organization also provides year-round support systems for children with cancer and their families.

Camp Quality, Northwest Missouri, Office Manager Lynett Bingaman attended Rust Under the Stars and led the booth for the organization at the event. She said she enjoyed the family-friendly atmosphere the night provided.

“We couldn’t operate without these third-party fundraisers, which help to support the 104 kids we bring to camp each summer,” Bingaman said. “Some Camp Quality’s have corporate sponsors or Hospital funding support, but we rely on the great people of Northwest Missouri and beyond who attend these events, volunteer their time and money to make our camp happen.”

Camp Quality Northwest Missouri is a volunteer-run and community funded program, aiming at finding new ways to provide hope for successful treatment, hope for a cure and hope for the future.

Vendors attending the event said Rust gives them an opportunity to donate, as well as sell and promote their products in an atmosphere different than typical vendor fairs throughout the region.

Al and Shelby Lawson own Windmill Antiques, a small business from Maryville selling aged items with antique, sentimental value. They came to Rust Under the Stars for the first time this year and said the event was for a good cause and good for business.

“There are lots of vendors and people here for a great cause,” Shelby Lawson said. “The live music adds to the fair-like atmosphere, we really enjoy it.”

Al Lawson said he appreciates an event like RUST close to home, living about three miles from the Dot Family Farms.

“This event gives a different kind vibe than usual vendor events,” Al Lawson said. “It’s at night for starters — and people come by in larger crowds because of the touching cause.”

RUST owner Campbell organizes and runs the event with the help of friends and family. Coffelt said the name RUST can also be an acronym when rearranged to RUTS, meaning “Rust Under the Stars.”

“We wanted to provide a homey fall ‘gathering around the campfire’ feel,” Campbell said. “We saw it as a way for small businesses to make money and feel supported while raising money for those kids. It’s a vendor event unlike others, with the country atmosphere.”

Campbell said she was humbled and appreciative of the event’s support in its second year of operation.

“We started at 5 p.m. tonight and will go to midnight, already seeing a lot of people,” Campbell said. “Tomorrow we start early, at 9 a.m. and go until midnight. We had a big turnout last year and we are expecting even more this year.”

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