‘The Big One’ Lititz becomes Craft City for a day
By: JANET SCOUTEN Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
With more than 450 vendors, this weekend’s show, also known as "The Big One," is a virtual sea of crafts.
Spreading from Locust Street to East Main, South Broad to Orange Street, North Broad to Front Street and spilling over into Lititz Springs Park, the town is awash with the creative work of a variety of artisans.
It’s the second Saturday in August. It’s the Lititz Rotary Club Craft Show.
For the 40,000 visitors expected at this year’s Aug. 11 show, treasures abound. Within the booths lining the streets, shoppers will discover quilts, baskets, wreaths, jewelry, pottery and more. And behind each item for sale, they will find the artist, proud and excited to share his or her handiwork with the public.
Each one of these crafters has a story, and for most of them, the show represents months of preparation and hard work. Focusing on the following four vendors, each a resident of Lititz, gives shoppers a glimpse into the artists behind the crafts.
For Rotary Club member and woodworker Dave Buckwalter, this is his first year of displaying his wares at the craft show. Creating heirloom-quality wooden bowls and goblets from local walnut, cherry and maple trees, Buckwalter signs the undersides of his creations with his name, date and the type of wood used.
He learned woodworking as a boy. His late father was a woodworker who made fancy walking canes topped with carved animal head handles. Dave, however, has focused his efforts on bowls and goblets, doing much of his work on a woodturning lathe in his basement workshop.
"I always wanted to try a lathe," he explained. "Right away, I was hooked."
Until recently, Buckwalter gave away his creations to friends and clients. A local real-estate agent, his bowls served as the perfect closing gift after selling a house. Through word of mouth, however, people began asking to buy his handiwork.
His wine goblets, featuring two interlocking rings around the stem, have proven to be a particularly popular item, especially as wedding gifts. Buckwalter described sitting outside one evening, enjoying a goblet of wine, when a man walked up and asked him to sell it.
"Sure," he said, "but you have to let me finish the wine first."
Krista Schwartz, local hatmaker and mother of three, said of her at-home business, Kotton Pickin’ Kute:
"After my oldest son was born, I began searching for a creative outlet. A couple of years ago, I found that outlet. I just really enjoy making hats for newborns and babies."
This will be her second time at the Rotary Craft Show.
Of her experience at last year’s show, Schwartz said, "What a great day! I loved seeing people excited about my hats."
After almost two years of crocheting for her at-home business, Krista has sold more baby hats than she can count. With last year’s success in mind, Schwartz is preparing a larger inventory for this weekend.
"There’s no better baby shower gift than one of these hats," she claims. "All moms love them. It’s a creative, unique present they will treasure for a lifetime."
Julie Beard has sold her jewelry at the show for the past five years. Featuring necklaces, bracelets and earrings made from beads, crystals, blown glass and natural stones, this booth sparkles with creativity.
In addition to traditional jewelry, Beard even makes cell phone charms, which she explained are particularly appealing to teenaged girls: "They like a little bling for their phones."
Working out of her South Broad Street home, Beard calls the Lititz Craft Show her favorite, and not just for the short commute.
A self-taught jewelry maker, she initially just made necklaces and earrings for herself, receiving many compliments that prompted her to start her own business. Over time, her designs became more complex as she attended trade shows where she got more ideas and unique supplies for her craft.
Beard prides herself on making one-of-a-kind jewelry, explaining that she can create custom orders, sell ready-made items or even change things on the spot.
"I can make it longer, make it shorter, add or remove something," she said. "That’s the advantage of buying through the craftsperson."
Finally, Kamilot, co-owned by Kami Deppen and Lititz resident Laura Zimmerman, features children’s clothing and accessories. This jointly-owned booth is filled with colorful and fun designs created by women who truly know their target audience.
"We originally started out creating stationery and greeting cards, but as our children got older, we wanted to do creative stuff with their clothing," Zimmerman said. "When we saw what the other one had made for her kids, we’d say, ‘Oh, that’s so cute!’
"We found our niche."
Each year, the two women add new designs, trying them out first with friends and family.
"Our clothes are for babies through older kids," Zimmerman said. "I’ve even had a few women say they’d buy one of our larger skirts for themselves."
Taking pride in their work as clothing designers who make what they sell from scratch, she explained, "Visitors come from all over and expect a certain level of craftsmanship at the Lititz fair, and they find it."
As for the quality of the show itself, Zimmerman called it "by far, the best show we do. It’s not just the biggest, it’s the best."
"Even with the economy as it is," she said, "people still come out and support the fair. No one is walking around empty handed. We really appreciate that people are investing in their local crafters."
Each one of these featured artisans can be found at this weekend’s show, near the intersection of Main and Broad streets. For more information, contact the crafter either via e-mail or through etsy.com: Dave Buckwalter, woodworking (email@example.com); Krista Schwartz, baby hats (firstname.lastname@example.org); Julie Beard, jewelry (email@example.com); Kamilot, children’s clothing (kamilot on etsy.com). More CRAFT SHOW, page A14