Organizers expect 20,000 visitors

Art in the Park organizers are predicting more than 20,000 visitors and nearly 150 exhibitors will converge Saturday for the 32nd annual fair in Marion?s Central Park.

The show is sponsored by the Marion Chamber of Commerce, with many favorite crafters returning. They showcase limestone and metal art, soups, candles, baskets, clothing, jewelry, photography and more, said Judy Christiansen, committee chair.

?We will also have a lot of new vendors too,? she said. ?One of the exhibitors has unique handmade jewelry and a couple others will have salsa and homemade jams.?

Another new component to this year?s event will be Wiscon?sin cheese, she said.

With the committee willing to accommodate about any situation or request, Christiansen said the cheese vendor, coming from Fredonia, Neb., is bringing a commercial refrigerator that will need to be rolled into the park and set up on plywood so it doesn?t sink into the ground.

One new crafter raises oysters, implanting a grain of sand to make a pearl.

?People can hunt for the pearl they want and have it made into a necklace,? Christiansen said.

In addition to Kansas exhibitors, many out-of-state crafters will sell items.

?We will have a couple of people bringing pottery, along with people personalizing sweatshirts, clothes and other things,? Christiansen said, ?

Boy Scouts help

One of the more unique services offered at the show is help from local Boy Scouts, she said. Vendors will begin arriving and setting up at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17.

?Some (exhibitors) don?t come until 9 p.m. or later,? Christiansen said.

The Scouts are available to assist with unloading items, and they stay in the park Friday night to make sure nothing is taken.

?Anybody can use their services for a donation,? she said.

Before Friday, Christiansen said, all the locations for vendors are pre-marked so all they need to do is check-in and get set up.

Popular items

Most shows have a popular item that sells well, but last year, Christiansen said, she didn?t notice any one special thing.

As for the best way to browse the entire show, Christiansen suggests people ?meander in the park and hope they stop at every booth. Start at the first vendor and go up and down and to the back to see everything.?

The committee is excited about recent park improvements. In early spring, the park board and city tore out the old sidewalks, widened the pathways, buried electrical lines and generally spruced up the area.

Beyond the improvements, the event will offer live entertainment, a large food court and a shady, relaxing environment.

Parking won?t be a problem either, according to organizers, with a free shuttle-bus service departing every 15 minutes from parking lots on Main and on Eisenhower Drive near the baseball complex.

For more information, call Margo Yates, Chamber directore at 620-382-3425.

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