Tillsonburg's Down Home Country Christmas Craft Show tradition carries on

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Tillsonburg's Down Home Country Christmas Craft Show carried on a 29-year tradition with a successful show at Glendale High School on the weekend.

The Nov. 23-24 craft show, which has grown in size since its inception in 1984, annually attracts 4,000-plus visitors and a wide variety of arts, crafts and culinary vendors. Saturday's attendance, despite extreme winter conditions in some regions, was estimated at 2,000-2,500. Lower attendance is the norm Sunday, said event coordinator Suzanne Fleet, but it was fairly steady.

Proceeds from the Down Home Country Christmas Craft Show go to the Station Arts Centre.

"It goes towards our programming," said Fleet, who works almost year-round with a six-member organizing committee, with another 28-plus student volunteers and Station Arts members helping out on the weekend.

"A few of our vendors were late coming in, and weren't even sure whether they could get here because of the weather," said Fleet. "I was concerned as to their health and welfare until they did arrive."

Ninety-one vendors set up for the weekend, and they had room for 110 if each vendor used one booth.

"Overall, I would say I was happy with it. It would be nice to offer the vendors bigger spaces, but we work with what we have provided to us. Some of the vendors didn't return this year because they couldn't make their stuff fit into the smaller spaces. We always had a variety of sizes at the Event Centre, and we have a variety of sizes here, but it's different."

With the transition to GHS from the Special Event Centre, they had to scale down the largest size booths from 13x15 to 8x10 feet to fit Glendale's hallways.

The end result was a number of new vendors, changing the look of the show.

"There was a lot of new product that people have never seen before. So that was good.

"Some of the vendors were a little concerned, being in a different location - hallways versus one big room. But overall, once they got here and set up, they saw we still had decent crowds coming in. I've had pretty much nothing but positive feedback from the vendors. I have a lot of vendors asking for the exact same spot next year. So I think they're happy."

Some vendors were very successful, she said, noting the beach glass vendor had to make new product Saturday night. In the cafeteria, the food items – soup, sandwiches and wraps - sold out Saturday, and by noon Sunday had sold out again.

She said one area they can improve, at least from the vendors' perspective, was giving them access to hydro.

"We were used to having the drops from the ceiling at the Event Centre, but here, there outlets here, there, everywhere. So rather than play favourites, I just said 'no hydro this year.' But walking around and seeing where the outlets are, we're trying to come up with a plan next year to offer hydro to people who want the hydro."

Next year, they have big plans for the 30th annual Down Home Country Christmas Craft Show.

"Looking forward to next year," Fleet summed up. "We're going to be having a big celebration. I'm hoping that they (TVDSB) see this as a positive thing, and they will be gracious enough to grant us use of the building again next year. The custodians – everybody here – have been so helpful."

chris.abbott@sunmedia.ca

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