30th Down Home Country Christmas Craft Show

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Is it considered 'last minute Christmas shopping' on November 29-30?

That's how Tillsonburg and District Craft Guild promoted its 1984 Down Home Country Christmas Craft Show, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last weekend with a show at Glendale High School.

Back in November 1984, when The Tillsonburg News reported on the annual show, organizers, led by committee chairperson Linda Albright, called the '84 craft sale "a tremendous success." About 1,500 people attended in '84, held at the Community Centre, and with admission of $1, the guild had expected to make a $2,000 profit.

Amidst the explosion of colors and the tumult of textures, wrote the News staffer, which constituted the staggering range of items on sale, the crowds that poured in were able to eye and buy creations as diverse as watercolour paintings, egg shell art and miniature wooden outhouses.

"We had such good quality and a nice variety and people commented on that," said Albright in her report.

The guild, which included organizing committee members Donna Marsden, Ev Tondreau, Nellie Swain, Emily Prouse and Judy Babbey. staffed a canteen serving hot cider, baking and minced tarts.

With the 1984 show in mind, organizers dropped admission to $3 for the 2014 anniversary show, and that in part contributed to a boost in attendance, said Suzanne Fleet, chairperson of Christmasfest, and coordinator of the Down Home Country Christmas Craft Show, in its second year at GHS.

"It was a little less congested this year," said Fleet, who reorganized the floorplan, spreading out vendors so they didn't have quite as many near the entrance, allowing the visitors to disperse easier in the school hallways.

People came by the thousands – at least 1,500 visited Saturday alone.

"Yesterday (Saturday) morning, there were people lined up to Glendale Drive, which was great. Actually that happened a couple of times... right out to the street.

"Attendance was up quite a bit from last year. I'm sure a lot of it had to do with the weather – the blizzard last year was a big hindrance. Also, I'm sure the $3 anniversary admission helped," she added with a smile.

"We had a lot of new vendors this year, great stuff... great for Christmas shopping. A lot of the new vendors were saying, 'I was at this show a couple weeks ago and I was talking to someone who said if there's room, you have to get into this (Down Home Country Christmas) show. A lot of its word of mouth from other vendors, which makes us feel very good, that we're doing something right."

Most of the craft show proceeds, said Fleet, after the bills are paid, will go toward children's programming at the non-profit Station Arts Centre. There are five on the organizing committee, and another 20 weekend volunteers, including students working for community service hours.

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