Even the weather is cooperating. While rain and storms are possible most of this week, the area forecast is calling for a mostly sunny Saturday with a high around 80 degrees.
If the forecast proves true, Penni Schroeder, in her sixth year as fair director, will be delighted and relieved.
Schroeder said late last week that 279 vendors will be on hand to present their wares, which is similar to last year’s total.
“I think we have probably 70-80 new vendors—that’s always good,” she said, because it keeps the fair fresh with new items to offer the 40,000-some shoppers who come each year.
“I know we have a vendor selling sour kraut this year,” Schroeder said, citing one of the more unusual new products. “That is a new one for me. I think they can it.”
While welcoming new vendors, the organizer association seeks to have a variety of merchandise to offer.
“There shouldn’t be as much jewelry this year,” Schroeder said. “We tried to be more choosy on the jewelry, to have more unique stuff. We’re hoping that shows this year.”
And sour kraut won’t be the only edible item offered as a craft product.
“I feel like there’s more leaning toward dry (food) rubs and things like that—more than we’ve had in the past,” she said. “It seems to be a trend.”
“Of course, the repurposed things are more of trend this year, too—a lot of signs with sayings,” Schroeder said. “That’s always real popular. And we’ll have more lotions and soaps that people create from goats.”
The lineup of local food vendors will be the same this year, with one exception. A college student from Hillsboro will be offering hot and cold coffees and scones in front of the Olde Towne building on North Main.
“I don’t think we really have anything quite like that,” Schroeder said.
A small army of local volunteers and groups are needed each year to make the event manageable and pleasant for the masses.
Schroeder said that part of the organizing effort is complete, as well.
“We have all our volunteers for setting up on Friday and Saturday—the last person emailed me today so I think I’ve got what we need,” she said.
Another reason Schroeder is aiming for another successful fair is that this one wil be her last as director. She and husband Steve will be moving to Colorado later this year to be closer to family.
“It’s been great partly because of the association I work with, the city people,” Schroeder said about the satisfaction her role provides.
Each year the director meets with individual and organizational volunteers, including city employees, to go over preparations.
“We just had the city meeting last week, and they’re just amazing,” Schroeder said. “They talk among themselves and they say, ‘This is the system that we had,’ and the guys who put up the barriers say, ‘Oh, we’ll take care of that.’
“I just go there to bring up in the conversation what needs to happen different than in the past, and they take care of a lot of it.”
Interaction with local residents has been a highlight of her tenure.
“What makes it good is working with the people, and getting to know more city people,” She added. “I wouldn’t have had relationships with these people if I hadn’t been in this job. That’s really cool for me.”
Schroeder said her successor hasn’t been chosen yet, but “we have a number of great applications, so it will continue on as good or better than it has in the past, I’m sure. But it’s exciting, to see people wanting to see this continue and have a passion for it.”
Schroeder may not be fair the director next year, but don’t ber surprised if you see her among the crowd on Arts & Crafts Fair day.
“I think I might come back just to come to the fair,” she said. “I didn’t appreciate it enough before I did this, and now I have a way higher appreciation for the fair.”