Monday, November 15, 2010

NW Arkansas Fall Craft Fairs - Shop 'Till You Drop!

The second weekend in October, Northwest Arkansas bustles with thousands of visitors from all over the United States and this year was no exception.  The reason, you ask?  It's craft fair weekend...and not just any craft fair, but a myriad of fairs all over this side of the state.   It all started in 1954, when the ever-popular War Eagle Fair held it's first show.  Since that time, there's been an increase in the number of shows, fairs and festivals which feature something for everyone.  News sources say these festivals draw in hundreds of thousands of visitors each fall; last month, visitors topped over 600,000.  That's a pretty substantial number when you consider the fact that my little town of Springdale has a population of just over 66,000 people and our neighboring Fayetteville has a reported population of 73,000. 

As always, I love to put on my comfortable walking shoes and visit the shows.  I never have the time to visit all of shows in any given weekend, but I do have my favorites that enjoy visiting each year.  One of my favorites is a smaller show which is held at the Jones Center.   I always find unique handmade items at reasonable prices there, and although it's busy, it's never jam-packed full of people, making it easier to browse the displays.  

One of my favorite vendors there is Prim by Design.  This vendor never fails to disappoint.  They sell all sorts of homemade potpourri, scented wax dipped dough ornies and all the fixins'.  I love to buy a little bit of everything from them, mix it all together and display it in an old muffin tin during the holidays.  The "snowmen and bells" wax dipped salt dough sells out quickly every year and is one of my favorites.   They also sell handmade prim dolls, hand-painted candles, and the like.

Claudia Steele was a new vendor to the Jones Center this year and her table was absolutely hopping with customers.  Her clever jewelry creations featured quilled paper designs coated with a lightweight, non-yellowing shellac.  I couldn't resist purchasing several of her necklaces and earrings for gifts.   These are absolutely perfect for friends and coworkers from the office.  (OK, I admit it, I did buy a butterfly necklace and earring set for myself, too.  ;)  )  Claudia doesn't have a website yet, but is working on putting one together.

Mary Ellen Watson is another talented vendor that caught my eye this year.  She paints gorgeous Russian Orthodox/Byzantine style icons with traditional egg tempera.  She offered numerous original paintings, prints, postcards and greeting cards at the fair this year.  I ended up purchasing several greeting cards featuring her work.  Mary Ellen can be contacted at for custom orders; she is also available for speaking engagements.

Another favorite craft fair I enjoy visiting is the one held at the Springdale Holiday Inn Convention Center.  This fair is huge and is contained within 2 large buildings.  It is always packed and people are shoulder-to-shoulder, but there are some great finds here.    Being a cradle-Catholic girl who loves lots of bling, I absolutely couldn't resist perusing PJ's Boutique.  PJ's carries lots of rhinestone-covered and bejeweled crucifix (and other shaped) jewelry pieces, handbags and clothing.  OK, none of what they carry is handmade, but it's a fun place to shop if you are looking for something a little different.  PJ's Boutique is a part of the Feathered Nest Market on Facebook.

Pleasant Memories is another vendor I absolutely had to check out while there.  They featured tons of beads, dichroic glass pendants, charms and other items for the jewelry artist at very reasonable prices.  One very large table featured long strands of pearls, cloisonne beads in every possible shape, stone crucifix and peace sign beads and much, much more for as low as $2.00 a strand.  As much as I tried to resist the temptation, I did purchase several strands of beads to use in my jewelry creations.

If you ever want to plan a trip to the Ozarks and you enjoy craft fairs, you definitely want to come to Northwest Arkansas in the fall.  Bring lots of money and comfortable shoes with you.  Trust me, you will need both. :)

1 comment:

Thespoena McLaughlin said...

Excellent! I had such a great time at War Eagle this year. It's the first time I had gotten to go in a few years. Thanks for sharing!

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