Friends' annual craft fair provides early start to Christmas

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An event happening this weekend will provide a perfect chance to help those who are eager to get started on all things Christmas.  

Lovers of the holiday will be able to shop for gifts and decor at the Friends of the Library's eighth annual Indoor Arts and Crafts Fair Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cartersville Civic Center at 435 W. Main St., next-door to the Cartersville Public Library. 

"The craft fair helps to raise funds for programming at the various branches of the Bartow County Library System," craft fair committee member Lori McAllister said. "Money raised is also used to purchase books and various media. The role of the FOL is to support family literacy and the use of the libraries located in Bartow County. We encourage all residents to become members of the library as well as becoming members of the Friends group."

The yearly event, chaired by Karen Barnhart, will feature more than 70 vendors located mainly inside the venue, but "there will be quite a few booths outside" as well, McAllister said, noting there also is a wait list of crafters who want to secure a spot. 

"All items are usually handmade," she said. "There are food items, jewelry, woodworking, glass, soaps and wreaths," she said. "Many items are hand-sewn or knitted, and some are very unique. This is the perfect place to find special holiday and gift items."

Some of the most unusual offerings include bath bombs by Wonderland Bombed, Santa bags from Little Baby Boutique, Russian tea cakes from Lynn Knauth and Native American-inspired crafts, just to name a few, according to McAllister.

Shoppers also can buy chances to win raffle baskets filled with craft items.

Burly Boy’s BBQ will be returning as the primary food vendor for lunch, and That Foreign Chick's Bakery will be on hand to supply dessert. Other food items like sweets, spices and sauces also will be available.

McAllister listed several reasons members of the community should use the craft fair for a family outing or a girls' day out.    

"The FOL Craft Fair is free to attend," she said. "It has free parking and takes place inside. Also, all items are handmade and reasonably priced."

The event is one of the Friends' largest fundraisers, along with the Toast to Literacy event it has hosted for the past three years, McAllister said. 

"We’ve seen a growth in attendance of at least 20 percent each year," she said, noting there was a "record number" of almost 500 shoppers last year. "People like the fair because it’s free to attend, and the crafts are unique and reasonably priced. It’s also popular because of the time in relation to the holidays. Our advertising on social media has also attracted many customers."  

Each year, the event has raised more than $3,000, and the goal for this year is to exceed that amount, McAllister said.