Ladies group hosts 18th craft show

Published 11:22 pm Saturday, November 14, 2009

Throughout 18 years of holding the event, one thing hasn’t changed about the Holiday Fare Craft Show held at Bethlehem Christian Church — the price.

For the 32 vendors crammed into a hallway and social hall at the Holland Road church on Saturday, participating in the annual event cost them the same this year as it would have any other year.

And whether because of the economy or some other factor, more vendors took advantage this year of the chance to sell their gifts, accessories, food and other wares to folks visiting the church.

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“We’re busting out at the seams,” said Becky West, who coordinated the event this year for the Jackson Circle, a women’s group at Bethelehem. “This is one of our biggest years ever.”

The craft show is the Jackson Circle’s biggest fundraiser of the year, raising about $1,500 that the women use to help perform a variety of services for people in the community, West said.

Members also make peanut pies to sell at Suffolk’s annual Peanut Festival, and many of the ladies contribute their own money to help with the mission work in which the group is involved.

“We’re always hearing all kinds of needs,” West said of the Jackson Circle women. “Our girls are very generous, anyway. They give straight from the heart.”

Members of the group dress bears and dolls for the Salvation Army to give at Christmas, and the ladies adopt families at Thanksgiving and Christmas, providing them with special meals and even gifts. Also, members occasionally hear about a family having a hard time paying a utility bill or dealing with a medical need, and the group is sometimes able to step in and help out, she said.

The craft show and other events help make all that generosity possible. And besides, the ladies, most of whom are in the 40s or 50s, with grown children, enjoy presenting it each year.

This year, there was the added dimension of providing a service to the vendors, many of whom use such events to supplement income from full-time jobs, she added, wondering whether the uncertain economy could have driven more people to try to sell their goods at the event.

The economy may also have played a part in visitor numbers that lagged a bit from previous years, she said, though the weather probably shared some of the blame.

Still, West and the other Jackson Circle members seemed to be enjoying themselves as they hurried about helping customers and vendors with various needs.

“It’s a fun time for us,” she said.