By Lyndsie Kiebert
Though the Pend Oreille Arts Council’s annual Arts and Crafts Fair does not typically take place until late summer, POAC Arts Coordinator Claire Christy said that the massive art vendor event appears on her to-do list in January, illustrating the magnitude of the fair’s impact on Sandpoint.
“The commotion of booth set-up is when it becomes real,” Christy said. “Everyone is charged with excitement and energy for the weekend ahead. Vendors who come back each year are reuniting. I get a sneak peek at all the wares for sale. I spend months communicating with vendors via phone calls and emails, so it’s nice to meet them in person and put faces to names. I find it rewarding to feel like I am a part of something the community looks forward to.”
The 2021 Arts and Crafts Fair — POAC’s 49th annual — is slated for Saturday, Aug. 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will take place at Second Avenue and Main Street. Nearly 100 artist vendors will set up in the street, meaning that parking on Second Avenue between Cedar and Church streets, as well as on Main between First and Third avenues, will be blocked off starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 13.
Christy said this year’s vendors will showcase and sell their artwork in media including painting, drawing, clothing, jewelry, ceramics, home décor, hats, wood carvings, wooden furniture, blown glass, yard art, beauty products, specialty foods, henna tattoos, ceramics and more, making the event a true showcase of all that the regional art scene has to offer.
“When we select artist vendors for the show, we choose vendors who make their goods personally,” Christy said. “We avoid mass-produced items and imports. Our goal is to showcase artisan-made goods.”
One local artist who will have his work on display at the Arts and Crafts Fair is Randy Wilhelm, who told the Reader that he’ll have his acrylic, watercolor, pastel and charcoal work on display at the upcoming event.
“My subjects range from scenery and wildlife to historic and iconic Sandpoint, as well as a few pieces with some political undertones,” he said, noting that he’ll be offering prints as well as originals.
Wilhelm estimates that he’s participated in about a decade’s worth of POAC Arts and Crafts Fairs, and has enjoyed interacting with friends and meeting new people who want to talk about his creations. As a longtime art teacher in the community, Wilhelm also enjoys visiting with former students who stop by his booth.
“I think the Arts and Crafts Fair is important because it really shows what a wide range of artists we have in the area, and it gives people another reason to come downtown and do some early Christmas shopping, wink, wink!” Wilhelm wrote to the Reader in an email.
Mike DeCesare, a Spokane-based photographer, will also man a booth at the 2021 Arts and Crafts Fair, showcasing limited edition, signed and numbered, landscape prints, as well as some sustainably-sourced maple wood bookmarks featuring his work. DeCesare called the annual event a “community treasure.”
“The show is important, because art lovers and collectors like to see art in person and meet the person who created the artwork,” he said. “A bond — relationship, if you will — forms between an art lover and a piece of art. Seeing art in person, and meeting the artist, removes the anonymity and moves the artwork from something you might see to something you might love to see every day.”
The Arts and Crafts Fair will also feature Azar’s Greek Food (both Christy and Wilhelm confirmed that the gyros are amazing), Jupiter Jane’s Traveling Café and the Panida Theater’s ice cream booth, to ensure that shoppers have plenty of fuel to visit each and every vendor. Admission to the event is free, though funds from booth fees go to support POAC’s visual and performing arts programs for area youth.
“I love to see how many individuals from our community come out to support these artisans,” Christy said. “Many people start their holiday shopping with us at the Arts and Crafts Fair.
“The support from the community for our artist vendors is so valuable,” she added. “Especially in times like these, when we see these small businesses struggling to get by.”
For more information contact POAC at 208-263-6139 or [email protected] Find a full list of vendors, and learn more about the nonprofit, at artinsandpoint.org. POAC would like to extend a special thanks to the 2021 Arts and Crafts Fair sponsors, including Inland Forest Management, KPND, the Sandpoint Reader and the Bonner County Daily Bee.
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