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Craft crowd Rotary show attracts 30,000
DONNA WALKER Record Express Correspondent
, Staff Writer
The annual Rotary Craft Show in downtown Lititz drew tens of thousands Saturday under blue skies and perfect temperatures.
"The police estimate 30,000-plus people," said event chairman Tom Oehme.
At 9:45 a.m., a volunteer rolled his 98-gallon trash bin down Main Street on his third trip to the dumpster, an indication of the crowd’s size and its appetite. Restaurants, businesses, food and craft vendors saw steady streams all day.
"Officially, (the hours) are from 9 to 4, but people were pretty active here this morning by about 7 or 7:30," said David Hager, Rotary Club president.
Vendors like Cindy Parzych of TasselledTotes.com began to set up at 4:30 a.m. so she could be ready by 7 a.m., the time required by organizers. Shoppers were ready then, too.
Margaret Thomas from West Chester arrived about 8:15, a bit later than others. She, her husband and friends had gone their separate ways and would meet toward noon.
"We’ll have lunch at one of the booths," she said. "Lititz has a lot of nice restaurants, but we feel we should support those (that are) fund-raising."
By 10:30 a.m., Ken Martin and other Rotary Club members were breathing sighs of relief. With temperatures in the high 70s, people were lingering among the stalls instead of hurrying to get out of the heat as in past years, Martin said.
Its size makes it one of the largest craft fairs on the east coast. It engulfs Lititz Springs Park then extends a half mile east down Main Street to Locust. Running north and south, the fair consumes another half mile of Broad Street from Front to Orange streets.
In that space, more than 700 tents line up to sell handcrafted items. At Turkey Tails, artist Melissa Ball displayed wild life figures painted on feathers and finished in frames. One tween stopped there to point at a bright green tree frog delicately rendered on a turkey feather and shouted, "Mom! I found one that matches your tattoo!"
Just as imaginative, another crafts person fashioned bird feeders from house wares. She placed a cup upside down on top of a cut glass vase and placed them in a bowl, also of cut glass.
"A vase, a bowl and a sugar cup," said a passing fair goer. "A little imagination, that’s all you need."
Vendors surrounded the William B. Oehme gazebo in the park where entertainment added to the ambiance. The Pipers Four from York harmonized, "Yes, we have no bananas," and they hung plastic bananas around their necks to make the point.
Drawing a large crowd was June Graber of Bdazzle jewelry, routinely available on Tuesdays at Roots Market. Graber demonstrated how to wear a scarf curl, her own creation, designed to bring a scarf together in a swirl of silver.
Also popular were box signs from Primitives by Kathy, a wholesaler who operates in Greenfield. Her daughter Anna Rose secured items that may be seconds and offers them at a good price. Sayings like "get your jingle on" and "friends are the finest wines" in white letters on a black wooden box can hang or stand on a flat surface.
When it first started about 35 years ago, Martin said, the craft festival took up half a block of East Main Street, and vendors’ set up 8-foot tables on the sidewalk.
"We’d get the Warwick High School Band down here by 9 o’clock the first day of the show to put on its halftime show to get people down here. And it worked perfectly," he said.
Over time, the show expanded into the park and it continued to grow.
"It just seems to fit Lititz," Hager said. "It’s a free show and that in itself makes it a popular show."
Though it’s too soon to know, Hager and Martin estimate the club will donate about the same as it did last year to the community. They said that combined with the club’s other fund-raising activities, it donated between $70,000 and $80,000 to the community.
More CRAFT SHOW, page A7