Fair celebrates 50 years of arts and crafts

James & Jessie Kaye peruse the wares during the 50th annual Gladewater Arts & Crafts Fair Sept. 16.

After 50 years, it’s no wonder the Gladewater Arts & Crafts Festival drew a healthy crowd of well-wishers, treasure seekers and artisanal aficionados to town over the weekend.
With wonderful weather beckoning them to the grounds of the Gladewater ISD Administration, the bargain hunters and early Christmas shoppers moved through the sea of tents at a relaxed pace, taking their time to take in the sights, to feel the textures, to taste the salsas and honey, to enjoy the day surrounded by the creativity of visiting crafters.
Among the throng of artisans at this year’s event, Darlene Garrett kept a watchful eye on the shoppers Saturday and Sunday, scanning for the lingering glance that said one was almost ready to go home with one of the items from ‘Grandpa’s Handcrafted Birdhouses.’
How was it going?

Book-buyers browse the selections at Lee-Bardwell Public Library’s Book Sale Saturday, Sept. 16.

“We’ll tell you tomorrow at 5 o’clock,” she said with a smile Saturday.
George Garrett lounged nearby, enjoying the steady stream of festival-goers.
“Seems to be a very good crowd,” he said, “a lot of friendly people.”
Needless to say, Gladewater Chamber of Commerce’s Lois Reed was excited to be in the midst of the hustle-and-bustle of the half-century-old fair.
“I’m quite pleased,” she said, handing out another guide listing the scores of crafters in attendance. “The weather’s great. The crowd’s been great.”
With almost 100 vendors on the list, Reed expected plenty of activity for the 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. stretch Saturday and its 10-4 encore Sunday.
Jessie and James Kaye were eager to join the multitude browsing the artisans’ wares.
“We actually just moved here from Kansas,” James said, holding a handmade metal decoration from ‘Francisco’s Metal Art.’
“This is way more than I expected it to be,” Jessie agreed, hefting another recent purchase. “This is great. When the makers are here, that’s really special.”
They were ready to get a move on – there was still plenty to see, and plenty of items had already caught James’ attention.
“The salsa, the preserves for me. I’m an eating kind of guy,” he quipped. “Lots of creativity from a lot of people.”

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