By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor

When we speak of ‘the arts’, there are many different avenues to be considered.   It may be music, theater, painting, sculpture, dance – and yes, even crafts!

Crafters enjoy the freedom of working from home without a set schedule, but some of these talented people often turn a skilled hobby into a small business venture, traveling throughout the year to fair/festival settings.

Arts & Crafts fairs have become more and more popular with consumers increasingly liking the “personal touch” of the goods they purchase.  If you are one of those people, you can look forward to visiting Shinnston this weekend as the city hosts its 7th annual Arts & Crafts Fair.

The fair will take place outdoors (weather permitting) in the parking lot on Bridge Street in Shinnston between the Museum and Lowe Public Library.  Vendors will exhibit and sell their handmade items on Saturday, April 22nd between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Shinnston Community Development Director AJ Hammond noted that spring weather is often unpredictable, but they are hoping for sunny skies that day!

“We tried to reserve both the Woman’s Club Clubhouse and the Baptist Church Lighthouse as a backup location in the event of rain, but unfortunately both were booked.  Vendors may set up their own canopies in their booth space, but if it is both wet and windy, sometimes that isn’t sufficient, so we plan to check with the Fire Department about perhaps moving there if we run into a downpour situation,” he stated.

As of late last week, vendor sign-ups were close to 30 and Hammond was expecting a few more to confirm prior to the fair date this weekend.

“Some of those planning to attend have come in previous years, but we are excited to have some new folks coming this year.  We want to keep this event growing, so we reached out to some new people this year and got some positive responses,” he added.

One vendor is a calligrapher who does work on paper, wood, and ornaments … and will take custom orders!  There will be homemade soaps and lotions, refurbished antiques, pottery, purses, scarves, crocheted items, baby items, wreaths, children’s hair accessories, jewelry, wood items, primitive signs, chairs and benches, home décor and much more!  A few will be coming from Morgantown this year with art as well.

In addition, the Shinnston Lions Club will be selling mops and brooms in the nearby parking lot at NAPA.  Lions Club President David Minor said they tried this last year and it was very profitable for their organization.

Additional vendors who may be interested in participating at the last minute may contact Mr. Hammond’s office at 304-592-5631.  The fee for a 10’ by 10’ space is just $15.  The Woman’s Club of Shinnston will be offering free coffee, donuts and the availability of restroom facilities to vendors at the Gillum House Bed & Breakfast, located within a very short walking distance.

“We hope that by hosting this Arts & Crafts Fair, it will serve a dual purpose and be of benefit to the downtown area as well,” Hammond continued.  “Some of our downtown shops have noted in the past that many visitors to this event also shopped in their stores and it was a big day for them.  We hope that will be the case again this year too.”

Now that winter weather is hopefully behind us, it is time to step out into the downtown area and enjoy shopping with these artisans.  Food vendors such as Heavenly Hoagies will be on hand and the Baptist Church will be selling hot dogs, chips and drinks.  Hammond said he is waiting to get confirmation from a couple more food vendors as well.

Downtown activities will continue in the months to come with something new this year.   ‘Wind Down Wednesdays’ will take place once a month with live music on the stage at the corner of Pike and Main Streets and will also include food vendors and wine tasting.  The first ‘Wind Down Wednesday’ will be held on Wed., May 17th beginning at 7 p.m.   From June through September, this evening event will take place on the first Wednesday of each month.

“We are hoping that some of our local shops will remain open on these evenings, creating a boost for our downtown merchants,” Hammond concluded.

Saturday, April 22nd is also Earth Day, when folks are encouraged to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air.  Celebrate Earth Day by stepping out at Shinnston’s Arts & Crafts Fair!

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