Holiday shopping season begins at annual craft fair

19 Nov 2011 | Pfc. Nik S. Phongsisattanak

Millions of products ranging from picture frames to decorative items are mass produced by companies and sold in stores all over the world.

Machines and assembly lines make such feats possible, but when a craft is created by a single pair of hands, the passion of that individual is expressed in their creations.

Artisans of many talents and backgrounds gathered for the annual Hidden Talents Fall Craft Fair at Marston Pavilion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Saturday and Sunday, to display and sell their works of art.

Upon arriving, the difficulty in finding a parking space alone was a clear sign of how immense and popular the event has become over the years.

Inside, more than 65 crafters set up booths and showcased all of their work. There were many items to see, most of which were handmade, to include things like Christmas trees and ornaments, jewelry, pottery and much more.

“I’m really enjoying the event,” said Carol Milnichuk, military spouse who attend the fair. “There’s a lot of variety and there’s something here for     everyone.”

All of the crafters were affiliated with the military, many of who were retirees and spouses.

“I love the fact that I get to work from home,” Karen Holliday, jewelry crafter at the event. “It gives me more time to be with my family, and if we move it’s not a problem because I can take my work with me.”

For Holliday, her hobby was also a way of maintaining a stable job, with the perks of being with her loved ones. She was one of a hand full of jewelry designers at the fair.

Anxious shoppers maneuvered slowly through crowds, bumping elbows every now and then in search of a piece that caught their eyes.

Many of the craftsmen pursued the path of making their hobbies a privately owned business. However, for Donna Ferguson, who makes homemade, all natural soap, it was a way of providing a solution to a family challenge.

“My daughter is allergic to the chemicals used in commercial soaps, so I did my research and began making my own soap naturally,” said Ferguson. “It saves us money and it’s safe for everyone to use.”

Craftsmen explained the techniques and materials used in their creations as curious shoppers took a closer look at the details.

“There are a lot of talented people here,” said Mary Jo Rueter, a military spouse who attended event. “It’s great to be out here supporting our military community.”

Hidden Talents organization, sponsored by the Officers’ Wives’ Club, helps to raise money for scholarships available to spouses and graduating students of military members.

“It’s really nice to see so many people here,” said Sandy Foster, president of the Officers’ Wives’ Club. “This is an amazing event. When people know that the proceeds are going to a good cause, they are definitely more generous.”

Last year, they donated more than $15,000 in scholarship funds.

For more information, call 451-2658.