Once again, thanks to the Foothills Arts Council, shoppers had a chance to enjoy a magical holiday experience at the Open Air Art Market.
“I love the fact that it’s an event and not just a shop,”said Donna Absher. “I love that we have music and this food and these friendly vendors and they told us about their soap and there’s a baker from Roaring River and she had Moravian sugar cake and she grew up Moravian so she could explain a lot about it. And the soaps are amazing, and the lotions.”
Absher said what she also loved about the Open Air Art Market is that most of the vendors are from right around the area and she could easily purchase items from them again even after the event.
This year’s event featured more than 20 vendors with handcrafted items, art work, vintage and antique items, baked good and more. Live music from a variety of local musicians provided a unique ambiance for the event which began Friday night and continued throughout the day on Saturday.
“Leighanne’s done a fabulous job coordinating everything,” said committee chairperson Eris Ball of arts council director Leighanne Martin Wright. “There’s lots of great music. I think this is the best year we’ve had.”
Martin Wright said she, too, thought this year’s art market was a great success with lovely weather for both days of the event and plenty of shoppers to enjoy browsing and mingling. She said it was practically standing room only on Friday evening.
Live demonstrations also took place during the event showcasing a variety of things from iron working to yoga. Blacksmiths Jim Adams and Matt Murray were first-time participants in the market. Adams called it “a great event” and said Friday night was especially fun with a good crowd and everyone in high spirits for the season.
Freda Baxter, a returning vendor from last year’s market specializing in handmade soaps, said she was thrilled to be back again.
“It never ceases to amaze how wonderful the people are in this town,” she said.
New to the market this year was Kelly Dougherty representing Yoga on Main. In addition to doing a yoga demonstration and offering information about the classes, the Yoga on Main booth also featured some gift items as well including chakra oils and lavender relaxation masks.
“We have these busy lifestyles [and yoga] gives us a chance to slow down and take some times for ourselves,” Dougherty said. She said they participated in the market to help spread the word about yoga and the many physical and mental health benefits associated with the practice.
Robyn Vernon was another returning vendor from last year. In addition to jewelry she makes herself using stones and crystals, this year Vernon also offered geodes that could be cracked open onsite, a very popular item with younger shoppers at the event.
“It was really fun,” said 11-year old Grace Harrison.”I liked being able to crack [the geode] open myself. It was really shiny inside and it was a bunch of jewels in there.”
Harrison’s mom Christie was impressed with Vernon and how she explained to the kids all about the stones.
“I enjoy it so much I thought I would love for the kids to be able to do this,” Vernon said of why she decided to offer the geodes this year. “The fact that you pick up something that is ugly on the outside and then when you crack it, it is just astoundingly beautiful with quartz crystals inside, I think that’s a good lesson for our times, you can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Based on the growing success of the annual Open Air Art Market, it is sure to be a tradition at the Foothills Arts Council for many years to come. A special visitor direct from the North Pole was even spotted at this year’s market.
“This is our first year able to be here so it’s absolutely been wonderful,” said Santa Claus. “We love all the people and all the different art, definitely enjoying it and want to come back every year.”
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.