Hot time for arts & crafts

Except for a some heat-related challenges, officials report Saturday?s 41st annual Arts & Crafts Fair was a good one for participants and most exhibitors.

Law enforcement estimated the total crowd at close to 50,000 people, based on the parking situation at designated lots and elsewhere around the downtown area.

?They started coming in maybe a little later than normal,? Police Chief Dan Kinning said. ?It was 8:30 or 9 (a.m.) before they really started hitting us. We had to start doing traffic about 8:30.?

Kinning said the open lawn area south of the former AMPI building usually accommodates only 10 to 15 cars when other lots are full. This year, that area was parked full.

?I know all the other parking lots were fairly well filled up,? he said. ?They were parking on Ash Street (all the way) to Alco and on Third Street all the way down to Madison,? he said.

?From probably about 10 in the morning until 1 (p.m.), the crowd was so thick that we (officers) had to stand on the outside and just watch.?

Most exhibitors reported solid sales, officials said, although totals won?t be known for several days yet.

?The streets were busy in the morning,? said Marcella Mohn, a member of the planning committee. ?It kind of thinned out in the afternoon, but I think that had something to do with the heat. Or maybe they saw all they wanted to see.

?We haven?t looked over our reports yet, but I think they were pretty well satisfied. Some were down. But the economy isn?t so good right now.?

She said food concessions were ?pretty good,? too.

?Some said they were down some,? Mohn said. ?Another thing is maybe they sold out last year, so this year they prepared more. That might be why they had some left.?

Temperatures rising into the mid-90s during the afternoon did cause some medical issues.

?It was a little warmer than we?d like to see it,? Kinning said. ?EMS was very busy. We were good in the morning but it seemed like after lunch, when the sun came out and it warmed up, we had a lot of people with injuries from falls. Most of them were vendors.

?Beyond that, there were people they were checking just because of complications from the heat.?

Kinning said his team fielded no calls related to criminal activity.

?We were busy with our normal traffic control, parking and vehicle lockouts and those kinds of things,? he said. ?We didn?t take any criminal reports at all.

?It was absolutely a wonderful day for law enforcement.?

Mohn said the day went smoothly for the Arts & Crafts committee as well.

?We do a lot of preparing before (Saturday),? she said. ?Friday is a very busy day getting ready. We list all the exhibitors by name and by what they sell and by where they?re from.

?Rene (Gillkey), our director, does a very good job of doing all of that.?

Mohn said work on this year?s fair began last January when the committee prepared the vendor applications.

?There?s kind of a lull now until we kind of get sales recorded and everything collected and everything returned,? she said.

Mohn said the committee is indebted to the local businesses and volunteers who go the extra mile to accommodate the masses on the third weekend of Septem?ber.

?We say thank-you to everybody who helped us,? she said. ?We couldn?t put on a fair if it wouldn?t be for the cooperation of all the business places.

?We need all the volunteers, too, and we always have them,? she added. ?There?s just a lot of people who are willing to help. Rarely does anyone ever say no, unless they?re ill or going to be out of town.

?We have a lot of cooperation from the community. Of course, the business places couldn?t do without the fair, either. It?s kind of a two-way deal.?

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