Homemade Holiday Crafts Flourish at F.C. Craft Fair

craftshow1The 18th annual Holiday Craft Show decked the halls of the Falls Church Community Center (223 Little Falls St., Falls Church) last Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5.

craftshow1The 18th annual Holiday Craft Show decked the halls of the Falls Church Community Center (223 Little Falls St., Falls Church) last Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5.

Occupying both levels of the community center, the event boasted over 60 vendors, children’s activities and even a performance by the George Mason High School Chamber Singers.

Helping to keep the kids occupied, some of the children’s holiday activities offered included a performance by entertainer The Great Zucchini, breakfast with Santa, a puppet show, crafts and face painting.

With admission costing only $1 for adults, 50 cents for children, and free for children under 12, the show is quite a holiday deal.

In order to participate in the holiday craft show, vendors must first complete the application process. The application deadline comes early, this year arriving on June 25.

Stipulations for vendors are set out from the start of the application process. They require that all craft items must be handmade by the vendor; all baked goods must not only be made by the vendor, but also be pre-wrapped.

Vendors at the fair provide crafts from many fields, such as woodworking, jewelry, photography, pottery and herbal products. There is even eggshell art, which involves using various types of eggs, including ostrich, to create works of art.

Vendors in the most popular categories, like jewelry, best apply early. The number of vendors per category is limited. Vendors must also demonstrate how their product is unique to their specific category in order to nab a coveted spot in a crowded category.

Applicants must also supply photos of the items to be sold, including a photograph of the booth set-up, a price listing which covers all items to be sold at the fair, and a detailed description of how items are created.

Once accepted, vendors who obtain a place in the fair pay various fees. Costs vary by type of space occupied and need for access to a utility outlet. In the Falls Church fair, costs are listed as $185 for gym space and $125 for the upstairs area, including the community center room. There is an additional fee of $10 for vendors requiring electricity. Tables and chairs are provided to vendors at no cost.

While vendors new to the show may be surprised by the specific requirements of the application process, Ann Baier is not one of them. In fact, this is Baier’s 14th year participating as a vendor in the Falls Church Holiday Craft Fair.

A resident of Falls Church, Baier creates pieces of what she calls “functional pottery.” Baier actually didn’t start out as an artist, but organically found pottery.

“I used to be a bee keeper and one day I thought it would be nice to have pots to give away my honey,” said Baier.

The catalytic creation of honey pots led to a much greater undertaking. Soon Baier turned most of her time and skills to making pottery, which currently includes much more than pots.

Some of her unique offerings include a sponge holder, dandipot, French butter holder, soup and cracker-holding bowl and an apple baker.

Bair says preparing for a show is an involved process. First, she must decide what to make and how to glaze it. Then Baier must price the items, put the pieces in boxes, pad them and haul them to the show.

“Hauling in the boxes of pottery and then arranging it on the table is a challenge,” admits Baier.

One benefit of the Falls Church fair is that they provide the vendors with tables.

“Another nice advantage of the Falls Church show is the ability to set up the night before,” said Baier.

Although the precursory efforts involved in preparing for the fair are extensive, once the initial set-up is complete and the show begins, all the hauling and arranging seems worth the effort.

“The day of the show is exhilarating as people whom I have met over the years come to buy more pottery or just stop by to see what’s been going on in each other’s families since the last show,” said Baier.

Over the 14 years she’s participated in the fair, she watched as the vendors and customers, forming a type of community, changed. She remembers some of the children assisting their parents as helpers at tables in years past. Now grown, these same children are young adults able to run the family business and handle the booths themselves.

Although Baier enjoys selling her goods and reuniting with the community and customers, many who over the years have become good friends, she also takes pleasure in customer appreciation.

“It always amazes me that my pottery is giving enjoyment to so many people, especially since I have no art training,” said Baier.

Maybe it’s the love of human interaction that leads to her only selling her pieces at craft shows.

“When customers tell me how much they enjoy my pottery, I feel especially good,” said Baier.

Those wishing to see more of Baier’s creations can mark their calendars for the 19th annual Falls Church Holiday Craft Show in 2011 and prepare to see beautiful pottery and most likely make a new friend along the way.