Marion under new management

Shoppers and browsers inspect a booth during the 2015 Art in the Park.Marion’s 38th annual Art in the Park, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, might be under new management, but organizers say vendors and shoppers alike will see few, if any, differences this year.

Margo Yates, director of Parks and Recreation, said the city assumed responsi­bil­ity for the event after the Chamber of Commerce disbanded in January.

“Everything is pretty much the same as it was, but for vendors one change is making checks (payable) to the city rather than the Chamber,” she said.

While the number of vendors will fluctuate from year-to-year, the booth fee of $75 has stayed the same.

In addition, admission and parking are free with a shuttle bus service conveniently running every 15 minutes all day long and from two different sides of town.

Travelers on U.S. Highway 56 should turn off at the Pizza Hut and head south to the baseball/softball fields to pick up the shuttle bus, Yates said.

On the west side of town, visitors can park at Marion Die & Fixture at the first Marion exit coming from the west.

For exhibitors who set up in both Marion and Hills­boro, there’s no convenient way to travel to the shows because a portion of 190th has been closed.

About 100 vendors have reserved a space at Central Park, which Yates said is up by about 20 from last year.

“Still it’s not quite like it used to be when we had 200 booths,” she said. “Older folks quit coming, and the younger folks aren’t making up for it.”

What’s new?

Yates said there will be a lot of new items to look at this year.

“I spent quite a bit of time recruiting people for the show and found some (unique) newbees,” she said.

“One of those new items this year is snap jewelry,” Yates said. “It can be changed out, making it look different and offering a variety of options.

“We also have someone coming from Oklahoma who will have everything from stained-glass ceiling fan pulls to stained-glass ear cuffs that will be both unique and interesting,” she added.

Another person makes Barbie doll and American Girl doll clothes.

“We have a new gal coming who makes sweet things like cheesecake, chocolate-covered strawberries, pretzels and marshmallows, too,” she said.

Hand-carved Santa Clauses will also be featured at the show.

“These Santa Claus figures will come in all different sizes,” she said.

“One thing I really enjoy is repurposed or what some people call upcycled products,” Yates said. “There’s no two alike.”

New and old favorites

Large cookies will be back this year, Yates said, and something that was very popular at the recent Chinga­wassa Days event also is also returning.

“They make cedar furniture and shelves and we are excited they will be here for Art in the Park,” she said. “We will have wine bottle holders, outdoor lighting to brighten a path or for landscaping ideas.”

For those who might feel overwhelmed during their long shopping exploits, chair massages are available, too, Yates said.

Two other vendors that shoppers might want to look at include personalized children’s storybooks and music along with handmade hair accessories.

After a couple of years with no kettle-corn vendors, the tasty snack is returning.

“When someone approached us that they were willing to do kettle korn, we were happy to have them,” Yates said.

Ready or not

“One thing we couldn’t do without is all the help it takes to make Art in the Park come together,” she said.

The Boy Scouts are important to the planning team.

“We don’t know anywhere else that there are Boy Scouts helping, and the artists love that because they help them unload and load them back up without ever any problems.”

The Boy Scouts help allows vendors to set up the afternoon before because the Scouts stay through the night to make sure nothing happens to anyone’s items.

“It’s so unique,” Yates said. “I don’t know anybody else who does this. The Scouts do it as a fundraising project and they do get nice donations for helping us, plus they do it for chips.”

Food booths

One local group. the Marion High School Boosters, sell nothing but bierocks.

“They cook the bierocks (Friday) in the Marion Elementary School kitchen, put them in roasters during the night and sell them the next day,” Judy Christiansen said.

Yates said the Wagon Wheel folks will be on site with fresh-squeezed lime­ades, stuffed cucumbers with chicken salad, or chicken salad on croissants, as well as grilled chicken salad. The Wagon Wheel business will be open all day, too.

The Rhino Wrestlers will offer biscuits and gravy, hamburgers, hot dogs and bratwurst.

Eastmoor Church will serve funnel cakes, and the MHS Educational Travel Abroad group will have taco salad and pulled pork sandwiches.

Something the Art in the Park committee started years ago was allowing visitors to be eligible for $20 gift certificates one hour before the show closes,

When people first enter the park, they are asked to sign up at the registration table, Christiansen said. At about 4 p.m., 10 lucky winners will receive a $20 gift certificate to use like cash.

Shoppers must be present to win.

One of the big questions every year is the weather.

“With all the rain we’ve been having, maybe it will get it out of its system before Saturday,” she said.

For more information, call Yates at 620-382-3425 or email her at: marionparksandrec.com.

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