Go handmade for the holidays

Local gift fairs offer variety of home made and recycled items from artists, craftspeople

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter


photoThe third annual Clark County Holiday Gift Fair features holiday inspiration Nov. 16-18, 2012 at the Clark County Event Center in Ridgefield.



Clark County Holiday Gift Fair

What: Gifts from local artisans, craftspeople and retailers. Kids crafts and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Animal adoptions.

Where: Clark County Events Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16-17; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18.

Cost: $6 for adults, free for children younger than 12. Senior citizens $3 special admission on Friday. Free parking. Bring a donation of canned food or a toy and be entered in drawings for raffle prizes.

Info: Clark County Holiday Gift Fair

Lelooska Family Annual Holiday Show

What: Woodcarvings, beadwork, dolls, ornaments, cards and other gifts made by the Lelooska Family and friends.

Where: 161 Merwin Village Road, Ariel.

When: noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17-18.

Cost: free

Info: Lelooska Foundation or call 360-231-4256.

Check 'Em Off, Green

What: 100 vendors with recycled gifts or gifts with an environmentally conscious bent. Free sustainable gift-wrapping stations.

Where: Marshall Community Center, 1009 E. Mcloughlin Blvd., Vancouver.

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1

Cost: free

Info: The Reuser

Glaring displays of multi-colored lights, the repetitive, tinny din of music sung by sappy crooners and the smell of sterile plastic packaging don't have to be a mandatory part of Christmas shopping.

Starting this weekend, Clark County residents can pick from a handful of gift fairs with locally crafted items to counter the mass-produced holiday blues.

The largest, the Clark County Holiday Gift Fair, kicks off on Friday at The Clark County Events Center at the Fairgrounds with about 125 vendors, live entertainment, food, drinks and even a sports lounge area with a TV for the decidedly-less-enthusiastic shoppers of the family.

"We started the gift fair three years ago," said Heidi O'Hara, who organizes the event for the fairgrounds. "We had one before that and it moved away, but we had so much input from the public about it (leaving) that we decided to do one ourselves."

The fair gets bigger every year. In its first year, 2010, it drew about 4,000 visitors, last year it had about 8,000, and this year organizers are expecting more than 10,000 during its Friday through Sunday run, O'Hara said.

"This year we also have many more handcrafted booths than we had last year," she said. "And we wanted it to be a true community event, so we started an entertainment stage."

Local groups such as the Evergreen Dance Academy, juBELLation Handbell Choir and Beacock Music New Horizons Concert Band will perform for visitors. And there will be a crafts station with Mrs. Santa Claus for the kids.

"Santa will also appear daily," O'Hara said.

Items include stained glass, woodworking, mosaic lamps and tables, gourmet coffee, essential oils, nuts and a host of other things.

O'Hara and organizers of other regional fairs said they decided to avoid holding their events on Black Friday weekend because they didn't want to compete with larger store sales.

"That's just a tough weekend," O'Hara said. "There are so many specials at the stores on Black Friday weekend that it might take away from our show."

There are dozens of holiday bazaars in Clark County. You can find many listed in Thursday and Friday's Columbian and also online at http://www.columbian.com.

Two other choices

The Lelooska Family Annual Holiday Show will be held this weekend.

Lelooska, held on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 17 and 18, in Ariel, features woodcarvings, beadwork, dolls, ornaments, cards, and other gifts made by the Lelooska Family and friends.

For those who want to take an environmentally friendly approach to the holidays, there's also Check ’Em Off Green, held on Dec. 1 at Marshall Community Center, 1009 E. Mcloughlin Blvd.

The event will have about 100 vendors with recycled gifts and locally grown or produced goods.

"The idea is that people can bring their entire list, check everyone off in a green way and get everything wrapped," said Terra Heilman, event planner. "Everything about Check 'Em Off Green is handmade, local and/or made with upcycled materials."

Some of the crafts include wreaths, welded yard art, wood furniture, garden items, mustache warmers, beeswax candles, ornaments, jewelry and cellphone pouches.

The event, put on by Vancouver Green Drinks, includes a sustainable wrapping station where volunteers will wrap gifts with such things as old sheet music, recycled paper and VCR tape ribbon. Wrapping is free but donations are encouraged.

"People can drop by with gifts even if they didn't buy them here and we'll wrap them," Heilman said, adding that donations will go to Habitat for Humanity and other charities.

Last year the event had about 1,000 visitors, and Heilman said she expects a similar turnout this year.

"It's packed but it's also quick," she said. "And it doesn't feel like the mall."