Lititz Rotary Craft Show turns 40

By on August 14, 2019

From sleigh bells to slushies, anything your heart desires could be found at the annual one-day Rotary Club of Lititz Craft Show on Saturday, one of the largest craft shows on the East Coast.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the popular craft show, which has grown from humble beginnings in the park, and has been organized for the past 39 years by club member Tom Oehme.

Between 40,000 to 50,000 people came to town Saturday, Oehme said, to check out the wares of 525 vendors.

“People enjoy our show because of the large variety of items available and the fact that it is something of a family event,” Oehme said. “God, again, shone down on us and gave us a beautiful day, so beautiful that the crowd hung around pretty steady the entire day.”

With thousands of people attending and parking a challenge, crowds jostled their way through the streets of Lititz, searching for that special gift, a treasure to enhance their homes, or something that simply caught their fancy.

It was all there; whether you were in the mood for pillows, planters, pictures, pots, or pet toys, the town was filled to bursting with all sorts of goodies.

Need Halloween or Christmas decorations? Covered!

“It is so popular because the show has something for everyone and in most cases, the items are reasonably priced,” Oehme said. “Many of our regular vendors actually have a loyal following and have many customers returning every year to make additional purchases.”

The event is also a fundraiser for local organizations and churches: Boy Scout Troop 83 sold bottled water, the Warwick High School choir and orchestra sold snow cones, and the Lititz Church of the Brethren sold quilted and embroidered items, to name a few.

More than a dozen women from the COB comprise the Golden Needles group, who sew or quilt weekly to make items to sell, including table runners, place mats, pot holders, and quilts.

“This is always our best one-day show,” said member Joanne Hess. “We’ve been here at least for the past 12 years and people come back every year. One woman from New Jersey was just here again; coming to the craft fair is a Christmas present from her husband.”

By mid-afternoon, Lisa Waterman and her son Matthew, 14, of Coatesville, were taking a rest on the steps of the General Sutter Inn, as Matthew held a six-for-tall metal garden sculpture of a bat.

“We come to buy these sculptures every year,” Waterman said. “Halloween is my favorite holiday and I needed something new for my collection. I bought some jewelry, plus a little bit of everything, and we always bring a backpack to fit it all in.”

Matthew, looking for accessories for Nerf equipment, said he was having a good time.

“I like where this is located,” he said. “I like the park.”

Nearby, Jerri Pickel of Lititz and her mom, Loa Parmer of Akron, were scoping out large metal ants.

“We put them in the garden; they are so cool,” Pickel said. “The craft fair is always around my mom’s birthday, so it’s a tradition that every year we come here to get a gift for the birthday girl.

“We’re just really looking at a lot of things right now, but I did buy a San Diego Chargers hat for my husband because he recently rescued a kitten, and I wanted to thank him,” Pickel said. “I also bought some catnip toys for the cat, but I haven’t bought anything for myself yet.”

Vendors appreciate the show, too.

“I love this show; it always draws a big crowd,” said Corinne Werner, owner of the Primitive Barn in Sinking Spring. “I always tell other crafters, if you’re going to do a show, do this one. It’s the nicest show in the area and it’s always been amazing.”

Nearby, Alice Pepper, proprietor of A Tea Affair at 34 East Main St. and a tea room at Eight Sturgis Lane, had English china mugs and English teas for sale, including specially blended Downton Abbey teas.

Pepper’s tea boutique and tea room have been featured in the international “Tea Time” magazine, she said.
“Tea lovers seek out tea rooms, which makes us kind of special, being the only one in town,” Pepper said.

A number of folks brought their dogs to walk the show with them, but Mitzi of Manheim might have been the only cat at the craft show. Greg and Karen Beers and their daughter, Kim, came from Manheim to browse, with Mitzi, in harness and leash, taking it all in on Greg’s shoulder.

“We like everything about this show and there’s nothing like it anywhere,” Greg Beers said. “It’s free of charge, you can walk around, and do what you want to do. We were here before 8 a.m. and there were still plenty of people here already.”

So far, the Beers family had made sure Mitzi got her ice cream at the Penn State Creamery and bought her a cat toy to take home.

Brooke Thomson of Lititz and her big white Samoyed, Loki, live close enough to walk to the show.

Mitzi had a great view of the festivities on the shoulder of owner Greg Beers, Manheim. Photos by Mary Louise Sholly.

You never know when you’ll need her…

“I like to get here early before the sun gets too bad,” Thomson said, thinking of her furry pet. “We come here every year because he likes the attention. I like to look at everything before I buy, but I am looking for a bonsai tree.”

 

 

The view looking down the hill on North Broad Street.

On the other end of the travel spectrum were Charlie and Andrea Root of Seymour, Tenn., who have been coming to the Lititz craft show for several years.

“One year, when we lived in New York, we were coming down Route 501 and I said ‘oh, look, there’s a craft show,’ and we stopped; that’s when it was still in the park,” Andrea Root said. “We love it. We love this whole area, and Lititz is just the most beautiful town.”

Root, a quilter, can get better prices and a bigger variety of materials in Lancaster, so the couple time their Lancaster trips to make sure they get to the craft show, they said.

Their niece, Vanessa Root of Schenectady, N.Y., is another enthusiastic shopper.

“My aunt first brought me here years ago and it was wonderful,” Vanessa Root said. “There’s so much variety; we just love to look at everything and to spend money — six feet in, we found something already!”

Vanessa purchased a large sign for her home that said “This is Us,” and doggie treats.

With three kids in tow, one on dad’s shoulders, Shannon and Jennifer Weaver of Lititz were enjoying a family day out.
“We’ve been coming to the craft show ever since we moved here,” Jennifer Weaver said. “It’s nice because it’s in walking distance. I like to browse and see all the booths; it really is a sight to behold.”

“I enjoy the crowds and it’s just nice to get out,” said Shannon Weaver. “We’re not looking for anything special; we’re just looking around.”

Relaxing on chairs in the shade, Rachel Wyneken of Long Island, and her mom, Rose Marie Wyneken of Luther Acres, said they were more interested in watching the crowd than buying.

“I come here for the craft fair because my mom enjoys it,” Rachel said. “We started out having breakfast at the Tomato Pie Cafe at 7 a.m. and now we’re getting our shot of “turbo” for energy from Cafe Chocolate. Later, we’ll probably go to Matthew 25, a thrift shop we like.”

At the specialty store Cherry Acres, office manager Amy Nolt was having a busy morning, arranging tin goats and clay pots on the sidewalk in front of the store while helping customers.

“Lititz gets a little crazy this day, but it certainly brings people into town,” Nolt said.
Cherry Acres owner Craig Wolf smoothed his hand over a large polished slab of walnut he was showing to a customer, a cross cut section of a tree fashioned into a table.

His largest tree table was a huge piece of light-colored parota from Central America, with the asking price of $4,200.

“I hate getting up at 4 a.m., but I love the craft fair,” Wolf said. “We get lots of customers.”

Fronting the park was a folk art booth selling tole-painted chests, pictures, pitchers, trays, jewelry boxes, gourds and more, and was swamped with customers.

“We have people that come from New York, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware specifically to come to our booth for our folk art,” said folk artist Debbie Graham of Lancaster County. “This is a really good show and the community of Lititz is very welcoming.”

Marylouise Sholly is a freelance feature writer for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at weezsholly@verizon.net. 

 

More craft show memories (click a photo to view in full size)

One Comment

  1. Patty Lingenfelter

    August 15, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Thanks again Tom and the Rotary Club of Lititz for organizing through the logistics and manpower to host this favorite event! We ❤️ Lititz.

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