With as many local volunteers as the Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Association recruits each year for the annual fair, this year may involve even more.
Renee Gillkey, fair director, said between 150 and 200 volunteers have signed up—and that doesn’t even include the volunteers who will help as local food vendors.
“We have more community involvement this year than we’ve ever had in the past,” Gillkey said. “People are just completely willing to give their time.
“In past years people have been willing to volunteer, too, but we’ve seen an outpouring this year.”
Last year’s fair was considered one of the best in quite awhile, according officials and exhibitors.
“We had close to 45,000 people attending this year’s event,” Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning said when it was over.
This year, Gillkey and her team of organizers are expecting right around 300 craft vendors, slightly below the 319 in 2009. The crowds can choose from around 27 food vendors.
As every year, the fair committee has intentionally accepted some new craft vendors to mix with returning artisans from past years.
“We’ve got about 40 new vendors this year,” Gillkey said. “We kind of try to keep between 30 and 50 new vendors each year. It’s a nice mix. You’ve got the veterans who keep coming back—and people look for their favorites. And then you’ve got some new ones.”
She said the committee juries new and returning vendors separately.
Applications are still running strong, she added.
“We turned down maybe 50 applications right off the start,” Gillkey said. “I just wrote letters to quite a few who were still on the waiting list, but we just didn’t have room for them.
“We’re very proud that the vendors know our organization and want to come back here year after year,” she added. “They always know where they’re going to set up and how they’re going to do it. There aren’t many issues that we have to deal with (the day of the fair).”
Several of the new vendors, including one from Wichita, made a strong impression on Gillkey in the application process.
“He does beautiful handmade wood boxes in the oddest shapes,” she said. “They’re absolutely gorgeous. I don’t even know how to do them justice.”
The fair opens at 9 a.m. and runs to 5 p.m. Saturday.