Once again, the Friends of the Library’s Indoor Arts and Craft Fair will be part of the fall-festival season in Bartow County, and organizers are seeking vendors for the annual event.
The seventh annual fair, which raises money for the Bartow County Library System, is being planned for Saturday, Nov. 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cartersville Civic Center at 435 W. Main St.
Fair Chairwoman Karen Barnhart and her committee still have openings for artisans who create handcrafted items as well as a variety of food vendors.
“At our current location, the Cartersville Civic Center, we can accommodate 60 vendors indoors, and typically we fill booths by the end of September and have a waitlist,” Barnhart said. “We are considering having some outdoor booths like we did last year to accommodate the overflow of booth requests, if necessary. One of the selling features of our fair is that it is indoors so we are not weather-dependent.”
The fair includes “both new vendors and seasoned vendors” from Bartow County and surrounding areas like Rome, Gordon County and Atlanta, the chairwoman said.
“Typically, about 75 percent of vendors have been with us two or more years,” she said, noting she’s had out-of-state vendors before, but most of them don’t want to travel long distances for a one-day fair. “Many have been with us since our first fair [in] 2010.”
In the early days, there were more Friends members than non-members selling their creations at the event, Barnhart said.
“However, as the popularity of our fair has grown, the number of vendors who do craft fairs on a regular basis has increased, many of which were not Friends members to begin with but often decide to join,” she said.
Crafters and food vendors can rent an 8-by-8 indoor space for $40 — $30 for Friends members. Several spaces have electricity available, but vendors must use their own extension cords and tape them down when necessary.
Friends receives the proceeds from booth rental fees while vendors keep 100 percent of the proceeds from their sales.
All craft items must be handmade — no Pampered Chef, Tupperware, etc. — and nonperishable, and the committee reserves the right to remove items deemed inappropriate.
Barnhart has watched the event expand more and more every year since its inception.
“Over the years, we have continued to see this event grow in both the number of vendors and the increasing quality of the items offered for sale,” she said. “We have a larger number of vendors than some of the other local fairs. Also, since we are primarily an indoor fair, weather is not a factor. Many shoppers have commented on the fact that this has become a tradition to kick off their holiday shopping.”
For this year’s fair, the committee decided to expand the “mini book sale” and to raffle off baskets of crafts, Barnhart said.
“These were added and expanded to provide additional options for shoppers,” she said. “We are also hoping to increase the number of food vendors to allow for additional food choices.”
Last fall, artisans sold a variety of handcrafted items — some heirloom quality — including quilts, pottery, soap, jewelry, blown glass, wreaths, knitted items, woodwork, stained glass, spices, needlecraft, inlaid wood, art, home-décor items and birdhouses as well as approved food items.
“We had so many unique items,” Barnhart said. “Two of the more unusual items were hand-blown glass ornaments and jewelry made from dried flowers.”
The fair last year raised about $3,300 for the library, Barnhart said.
“We had a great event and were very pleased,” she said. “There were record numbers of vendors as well as shoppers, and we had an outstanding group of volunteers working diligently to make the fair run smoothly.”
Library Director Carmen Sims said the money raised by Friends throughout the year is “combined into a large check” that is presented to the library at FOL’s annual meeting every October.
“These funds are used to purchase new library material, fund special programs and provide reading incentives for the summer reading program,” she said. “We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful group of Friends who care about the library and make it possible for us to provide good programming and material.”
The committee will continue to take booth reservations “until we are full, and then we place people on a waitlist for last-minute cancellations,” the chairwoman said.
But FOL is looking for more than just vendors for this year’s event.
“If you don’t plan on being a vendor at our fair, please bring a friend and be a shopper,” Barnhart said. “Also, consider becoming a Friend of the Library. Memberships are inexpensive, and the funds raised go towards family literacy in Bartow County.”