One of the largest — and oldest — stops on the rapidly expanding local craft fair circuit is the Kenai Arts & Crafts Fair, put on by the Kenai Art Center since 1978 and held at Kenai Central High School. Local craftspeople and holiday shoppers alike will gather this Friday and Saturday, with the fair open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fair coordinator Vicky Stanford has been running the fair for three years. She said this year more than 100 local vendors would be present at KCHS — “between 108 and 110.”
Vendors will fill much of the school, starting with the auditorium commons by the entrance, then down the halls, into the gymnasium and even into the school cafeteria.
With that many vendors, the wares on offer are plentiful and varied.
“Metalwork, art, beautiful signs, crochet, jewelry, canvas artwork, woodworking,” Stanford said. “Just an array of stuff.”
Though the fair is a holiday event — with Christmas trees, ornaments, snowmen and a venue for pictures with Santa Claus visible during an early set-up session on Wednesday, Stanford said there would also be plenty for folks to find “and end up keeping it up at their house all year.”
There are lots of craft fairs that local folks can check out — as many as three a week this season — but Stanford said that the Arts & Crafts Fair stands out and holds its own among the crowd because it’s been running for so long, because it has a great setup and because they have such great vendors.
When the show starts, Stanford said David Hartman Signs would be a popular booth, with lines of people waiting for him to paint their names by hand onto the signs he’s selling.
Hartman said he’s been coming out to the show since the 1980s, and that the Kenai Arts & Crafts Fair is one of his favorite shows to do because he’s local and he sees so many familiar faces — compared to larger shows in Anchorage.
Other booths that Stanford pointed out included Barb Soderstrum’s, where she sells granite engraved with images of animals; Wheelhouse Designs, run by Desi and Elias Wheeler, who sell painted signs; and Barry Solie, a chain saw carver whose work will likely be familiar to many who have been to the local craft fairs before.
“Everybody has their own unique thing,” Stanford said.
The fair will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Music will be playing, and Santa Claus will be present from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.