Rain dampens art fairs, but artisans greet die hard buyers

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Umbrellas were thick along North Main Street in Hillsboro during the mid-moring hours on Saturday. The rain more or less ended in the afternoon, but by then many guests, and some exhibitors and vendors had checked out.

Despite a dreary, cold and rainy day, shoppers who attended the Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair and Marion?s Art in the Park came to buy, according to event organizers.

Christy Wulf, director of the Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair, said that although crowds were about half the normal size?20,000 people rather than 45,000 to 50,000?profits were only a third lower than normal.

?Those people that came out were die-hard shoppers,? Wulf said.

Judy Christensen, chair of Marion?s Art in the Park, agreed.

?For the conditions, (the fair) went very well,? she said.

Christensen said some of the Marion exhibitors sold out of their products before the day?s end.

?In spite of the rain, and in spite of the downsize of the crowd, the crowd that was there was a money-spending crowd,? she said. ?They came to buy. They were going to endure all things.

?I noticed people carrying things out all the time. It seemed like most of the people had something in their hand. Some had big packages and some had little packages, but they were carrying something.?

Christensen estimated the Marion crowd to be about three-fourths the size of the Hillsboro numbers.

?We sometimes base our attendance on what Hillsboro says,? she said, ?because we feel that most of the people that go to Hillsboro come over here.

?Because being a crafter and being a buyer, if there are two in the same area, you go to both of them. You just don?t go to one.

?I?ve always thought that?s been a real selling point for Marion County, is to have two of them that close together.?

This year Hillsboro reported 332 scheduled exhibitors and vendors, with about 15 that didn?t set up. Marion reported 150 scheduled vendors with about 20 unfilled spots.

?I know there were vendors that were here, but didn?t set up because their product would have been ruined in the rain,? Wulf said.

?This is the first time in 38 years that we?ve had a fair like this,? she said. ?It?s never rained this long, so I guess the odds are it had to happen sometime. Hopefully, next year will be better.?

Christensen, who used to be a craft exhibitor, expressed the same, but said that exhibitors who attend outdoor shows come prepared.

?If an exhibitor does outside shows all the time, you know it?s bound to happen at one time, and you come prepared,? she said. ?You have extra things to go on the sides of your tent, you know how to tighten down for the weather, and sometimes you?ve got to stick it out.?

Sales for food vendors were down, some drastically so?depending on product and location. Vendors looking for a warm sun to drive sales of water and soda and other cold drinks, were hit hard.

Likewise, vendors that served food outdoors, and especially without a canopy, drew relatively few customers. Meanwhile, the ethnic meal served in the Senior Center, plus local restaurants and other indoor eateries were frequently crowded.

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