Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 22 September 2009 13:24
An estimated 20,000 people and 150 vendors were in Marion Saturday for the annual Art in the Park.
“It was a wonderful day,” said Margo Yates, director of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, “and all the artists were able to make it.”
Tammy Oborg (right) of Lindsborg carries off a hand-crafted birdhouse during the 31st annual Art in the Park held Saturday in Marion.
With some confidence, Christensen said, she believes Art in the Park is the only show in Kansas that incorporates its Boy Scouts into the mix.
“On Friday evening, (the Boy Scouts) helped vendors where needed, stayed in the park overnight, with their troop leaders strolling through the park with flashlights to make sure nothing was stolen.
“The Scouts had coffee ready for vendors at 5 a.m., helped set-up, carry, haul or do whatever was needed,” Christensen said.
A craft fair exhibitor herself for 18 years at the Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair, Christensen said she knows a lot about fairs.
“I think having been a crafter myself, I can say I know what it’s like to be in their shoes,” she said. “I treat them like how I would like to be treated, and if something isn’t right, we fix it.”
As for problems this year, Christensen said no injuries, thefts, or other traffic accidents were reported to her, making it successful in that way as well.
One of the reasons, she said, the Marion fair is held the same weekend as the Hillsboro event is to bring in a variety of talent to Marion County.
“With all of us cooperating together, we can all profit,” she said.
Most people tell Christensen that they enjoy visiting one fair in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
“With having both fairs that weekend, we keep money in Marion County,” she said, “and vendors couldn’t have been happier, with some selling out and others happy (with their sales).”
As for this year’s weather, she agrees with Yates that it was excellent.
“We couldn’t have ordered a better day,” Christensen said,
Now in its 31st year, many attending the event are long-time fans.
Lorie Scott of Olathe said she enjoys the exhibitors and every year finds many unique items.
This year, Scott said, she purchased an Alpacan scarf.
“It’s a Nunofelt scarf,” she said, reading the label.
Another visitor, Rhonda Werth of Hesston, said she has been attending both the Hillsboro and Marion fairs for almost 10 years.
Her two nieces, Leah and Elaina Werth, also like going with their aunt.
“Every year I let them pick out something and they enjoy that.”
Some buyers arriving early felt fortunate to get one of only a few crafts on sale that day. Tammy Oborg of Lindsborg was one of five who purchased a unique birdhouse.
Complete with the stake attached to the birdhouse, Oborg’s friend, Tina McMillan, said, “Tammy was able to buy the fifth one, and now they are all gone.”
Yates also commented on some of the “hot” items at this year’s event.
“Jewelry is still hot,” she said, “but all the food vendors said they did well.”
Another first, she said, was one vendor who sold barbecue sauce, which added a new dimension to the food category.
Christensen said another new vendor sold tin ceiling tiles.
“It was a seven-step process between painting and baking to create the tiles,” she said. The vendor had high, medium and low-end priced tiles, selling a majority in the either high or low-end and few medium.
Overall, Christensen said she believes buyers showed care in their purchases.
“I think people were pickier this year, and many had lists of what they were specifically looking for,” she said. “Many had Christmas lists to fill and shoppers weren’t just buying off the cuff.”
The 2009 Art in the Park is over and Christensen said many vendors completed their 2010 applications and delivered them to her before they left Saturday.
Christensen is also planning to chair next year’s event.
“If I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it,” she said.
One concern that Christensen and others talked about Monday was how many old-timers are retiring from the craft shows with no new young ones taking their place.
Christensen thinks there will come a time when craft shows will have to look at commercial vendors and determine which are the quality ones to invite into the shows to make up for those leaving the business.
“It’s going to be a new challenge (for any of us sponsoring craft shows),” she said.