The Spring Craft Fair at Sterling Community Center brought local hobbyists, enthusiasts and entrepreneurs out of the woodwork Saturday.
Vendors from as close as Sterling and Kenai and as far as Homer, Seward and Anchorage displayed intricate greeting cards, beaded earrings and translucent melted glass formations.
“I love homemade stuff and people making things they are not mass producing,” said Sterling Community Center Administrative Assistant Rochelle Hanson. “I love the quality and time and pride they put into it.”
The bi-annual event, also held in October, spotlights vendors and brings revenue into the community, Hanson said.
The fair’s youngest merchants, sisters Elly Bauer, 12, and Charlotte Bauer, 9, from Cooper Landing included a demonstration at their booth. The two crocheted as they spent the day selling their homemade rings, earrings, cotton hats, purses and coasters.
“Its just fun,” Elly Bauer said. “Its entertaining to watch my fingers make things.”
Charlotte Bauer said she doesn’t know many other children that dedicate so much time to a craft. Eventually the two sisters hope to display their work in a large gallery.
The pair was so thankful to have a booth at the fair, Hanson said. Watching the maturity and diligence they displayed at their booth was impressive, she said.
Hanson said the high turn out that day was indicative of the overall shift in the community’s attitude toward, and interest in the community center. Since December, membership has tripled and the ‘likes’ on the center’s Facebook group page has doubled, she said.
Any event that gets people involved in their community is positive, Hanson said.
“That is how it should be,” Hanson said. “The community center is the heartbeat of the community.”
Each year the fair is first opened to the Sterling community, then the Kenai Peninsula followed by the rest of the state, Hanson.
“We are looking out for Sterling folks,” Hanson said.
For Swanson Lake area residents Pam Schrock, and her daughters Jessica and Jennifer, the fair was a chance to make some money from a family hobby. The trio took turns manning their tables that were covered in two-foot-long Danish Braids, strawberry pies and potent, herbed breads.
The Parmesan, garlic bread is one of the best sellers, Pam Schrock said.
“As soon as you smell if you will know why,” she said.
At the end of the table, beside a hand drawn chalk sign was cluster of gluten-free goods. Pam Schrock said she was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease and had to tweak her treat intake.
“We are sort of health minded. I know it doesn’t look like it,” Pam Schrock said. “We don’t eat dessert every night. We are meat and potato people.”
The recipes are traditional and have been used and perfected for generations, Jessica Schrok said. In the past, the family ran a bakery, but now make the desserts at request and to sell at events such as the spring fair, she said.
Setting up shop Saturday was also an opportunity to network, Jessica Schrock said. A woman that had four-weeks until her due date asked if the Schrocks could bake for her baby shower, she said.
Across the gymnasium, Bonnie Cain said behind a symmetrical display of her handcrafted cards. Sparkling, delicate butterfly’s glistened in a pile next to piles of pens and textured papers.
She started working on her craft 15 years ago.
“I went to a home party and I was hooked,” Cain said.
“This is a craft for the non-artist. I can’t draw. This turned me into an artist.”
The fair was one of the first Cain had sold her work at for nearly two years.
She said she prefers to keep it as a hobby right now, but has developed her product so well she could live off of the profits for it if she wanted to.
“I love this. I love it with all my heart,” Cain said. “I would rather make cards than eat.”
Cain works as an independent demonstrator for Stampin Up in Soldotna so she can receive discounts on the materials she needs to make her cards.
She also teaches monthly classes. She said it is something anyone can learn.
“When ever day life gets to me I have my craft,” Cain said. “I can lose myself in my work for an hour or two. When I come out I’m a whole new person again.”
Reach Kelly Sullivan at email@example.com