A very crafty Christmas

Holiday shoppers get busy at Arts Council event

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— Crafters and artisans displayed the best of their homespun, handcrafted and homemade work Saturday.

Fleece, baked goods, jewelry and Christmas decorations lined the halls of Strawberry Park Elementary School, where people crowded to shop early for Christmas gifts and ideas at Christmas in the Rockies.

The 12th annual holiday craft fair, sponsored by the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, provides an excellent opportunity for local and regional artists to show off what they've been working on during the year, vendor Michelle Isaeff said.

Isaeff and her friend Dano Richey always return to the fair to sell dozens of their fleece hats and mittens.

"This is when we get our items out to the public," Isaeff said. "And we see a lot of people come back every year to maybe buy another hat because they've lost it, or they think it will make a nice Christmas present."

Stephanie Jalack admired Isaeff's and Richey's work Saturday. She said she appreciated going to one central place to see so many different vendors.

"Here, you get it all," Jalack said. "It's a convenient place to look at all that Steamboat artists have to offer."

The atmosphere of the Christmas in the Rockies invites people to stay a while and visit, while they shop for gifts that can only be found in Steamboat Springs, Denise Connelly said.

Connelly said she enjoys coming back each Christmas season to look for unique presents or to make a list of gift ideas.

"The nice thing about this place is that if you see an item you like, you know where to get it later," she said. "These people are locals and in the area, so it's not a huge inconvenience to find them again."

Students from the Steamboat Springs Middle School showed off their handiwork at the fair and earned some money for their efforts.

The seventh and eighth grade shop class made wooden bat houses, birdhouses and toy trucks and sold them to raise money to purchase materials for future projects.

Students received commission on their individual work if it sold, seventh grader Tucker Campbell said.

"We come here every year because a lot of people like to buy stuff like this for Christmas presents," he said.

Campbell's shop teacher, Johnny Walker, said his students benefit by displaying their work in a place where people come to find personal and creative presents.

Visitors were not the only people leaving with the elementary school with vendors' wares.

Crafters, artisans and bakers also exchanged their baked goods and accessories.

"It's often like a little bartering system here," Melanie Malson said. "You see something that you like in another person's booth, and you do a little swap."

Malson, who was filling in for a friend, said the congenial atmosphere among vendors made an enjoyable day more enjoyable.

Her friend Jane Arigo owns and operates Mt. Sunrise, which specializes in jams, jellies, preserves and Italian specialty cookies.

Christmas in the Rockies gives locals an opportunity to purchase locals' wares, Malson said, which benefits both the seller and the buyer.

"People like sending presents back home which tell family and friends a lot about where they live," she said.

"What you will find at this event is a lot of what Steamboat is about."

To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4208

or e-mail dharrelson@steamboatpilot.com

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