Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday at a Fair

            Witnessing any community at work can elicit a number of applicable responses. Is it a welcoming environment? Is it one that we have experienced before? Seasons of Crafts appears to be one of the larger and more well-known fairs in the city of Lincoln. Its reasonable size merits a large space at the Lancaster Events Center, though it had plenty of extra space for additional vendors. My group attended on late Sunday morning and early afternoon. Rather than entering with the mindset of conducting research in the field, I felt it was only natural to present myself and behave as a normal customer would when armed with only a single twenty-dollar bill. Of course, I was not searching for anything in particular, but perhaps something unique within my limited price range.
            Christmas wreaths of various sizes were the first things that greeted us upon entering the exhibit hall. It should be said that one must always expect to see a variety of holiday or seasonal items at any craft show and is possibly the one thing that I can personally guarantee. A craft fair in the spring might carry Easter-themed gifts, while a fall fair will boast Halloween or Thanksgiving-type décor. The first items that stood out of us were those of the Plum Creek Woodshop, which featured rocking horses and miniature chairs crafted with close attention to traditional details. Creations by Lambelet (who also owns an Etsy store) specializes in astrology and glow-in-the-dark-themed items, some of the most fascinating being lamps created out of empty wine and liquor bottles. With a studio located in South Bend, NE, Bonfire Glass exhibited a number of intricate and colorful pieces of stained glass art. One work highlighted a dark landscape created through the process of “plating,” or the layering of glass pieces on top of one another to create shadows and depth.
            Perhaps the most unexpected items came from one vendor who combined the different creative works of herself and her family to compose a large display with variety. Among the items was ManHands, which bills itself as “manly scented soap.” The most popular scents included beer, bacon, buttered popcorn, cash, cannabis, Democrat and Republican. The flyer for ManHands states that new scents are always being developed and that all products are “tested on dudes, not animals.” These items in particular are perfect examples of how craft fairs might strive to combat the common stereotype that their typical patrons are middle-aged and elderly women.
            I did make two small purchases at this fair. One was a silver painted ornament of a snowman cut out of sheet metal from ERI Metal Works of Adams, NE. The other was from Kubellen Krafts, a Lincoln-based vendor that specializes in body care items made from goat milk and stationary gifts. I am a fan of handmade greeting cards and I always make an effort to buy at least a couple for friends or family members during the holiday season. The messages they carry are the same as those of American Greetings or Hallmark, but they seem to take on a new significance when they don’t come off a factory press. This one is a beautiful blue and silver decorated card with a simple inscription in black cursive on the inside. The woman running this stand was using transactions to teach her granddaughter how to count change. I couldn’t help but smile as the young girl struggled to give change from a twenty out of a $5.35 purchase. She was still putting in the effort.
            This was an opportunity for the group to watch the craft fair community go about what they might consider to be their normal routines. There was plenty of extra space in the exhibit hall, allowing everyone to spread out. I noticed that there was little communication between vendors and this was a contributing factor. Seasons of Crafts had also run for two days last month in addition to the two this weekend. It was far from crowded but thankfully, everyone looked to be enjoying themselves. Going in, I wondered how this would compare to the smaller and considerably more packed fairs I assisted my grandmother with when I was younger. The environment is still very similar.

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