Winter Art and Craft Fair

by Chris Gustin

The day after Thanksgiving is reportedly the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States. Rather than fight the crowds at the malls, many people in the Brown County area bundle up and head up the hill to the Seasons Lodge for the annual Winter Art and Craft Fair.

The show is Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 26 and 27. Hours at the Conference Center are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The annual event is held in conjunction with “Christmas in Brown County” Holiday Celebration in downtown Nashville.

Among the arts and crafts that will be available this year are painting, ceramics, baskets, weaving and knitting, dolls, stained and blown glass, jewelry, quilted wall art, furniture, metal art, photography, folk and gourd art. Other booths will display recycled tin, hand-milled soap, dried botanicals, scherenschnitte, knitted clothing, recycled vintage textiles, and ironwork. Most of the exhibitors come from Indiana or nearby states, and most return year after year.

The show is juried and administered by members of the Brown County Craft Guild, a not-for-profit group of area artisans. The Craft Guild was founded in 1978 and has grown into a group of craftspeople and supporting members who are dedicated to the advancement, appreciation and public education of crafts of this area.

There is room in the Seasons Lodge Conference Center for 45 booths and there is usually a waiting list for the spaces. The jury committee meets in September to view the slides, review the entries and fill the slots.

Artists sit with their own booths during the show, talking with visitors, answering questions, or doing demonstrations of their particular art or craft. During lulls in the traffic flow, exhibitors walk around the Conference Center, catching up with old friends, admiring new designs, or gather at the “vendors only” room to share edible creations—some left from the holiday, and some made special for the show.

Booth rent and admission fees generate money for the Craft Guild that is used to provide art supplies to Brown County schools. Last year, Nashville, Van Buren, Sprunica and Helmsburg elementary schools each received checks for $250. In 2001, the Brown County Junior High Art Fund received $2,000 for supplies. In the past, scholarships were given to Brown County High School students. Additionally, the Brown County 4-H Club receives a free booth at the show for their annual pine wreath and garland sale.

Admission to the Winter Art and Craft Fair is by $1 donation or a special invitational post card. There is ample parking at the Conference Center, located on Nashville’s east side, just off Highway 46, about a half-mile from downtown. More information can be obtained by calling Cathy or Paul Hendrickson at (812) 587-5068.