Crafting in the rain
It’s all about being prepared, vendor Howard Terrell said, looking out where a handful of shoppers picked their way along a muddy path huddled under umbrellas on Friday. He’s been coming to the Bella Vista Craft Fair for 20 years in a variety of weather.
Jim Rasmussen remembers a fair where it was storming so badly that he saw one of the tents wrapped around a telephone pole — about halfway up, he said.
“It hurts to lose a day,” he said. “This is what we do for a living, so it hurts.” But he knows he won’t be able to return to the fair next year if he fails to open his booth each of the three days this year. Luckily, the prints he sells are not hurt by the dampness.
Betty Bittick was inside one of the big tents and was warning everyone who walked by about the mud puddle in the middle of the aisle. She had a good day on Thursday and expected another on Saturday. She likes the Bella Vista fair.
“You don’t see buy-sell stuff,” she said, referring to items some vendors purchase and then resell. It’s hard for someone who makes their crafts by hand to compete with someone who buys and then sells, she said. She only goes to about three shows a year, and Bella Vista is her favorite.
Sarah Russell and Jeanne Harmon were part of a group of eight who have been coming to the craft fair together for several years. They rent a house in Bella Vista and stay from Tuesday to Saturday. They believe in coming prepared for anything.
“We’ve been here when it’s cold and we’ve been here when it’s hot,” Harmon said.
“At least it’s not crowded,” Russell added.
Brenda and Mike Woods are happy to have a product that isn’t hurt by rain. Their floor cloths — like a rug but much thinner — are very durable.
Three years ago, they were set up during a rainstorm at War Eagle Mill. It rained so hard, their
tent “imploded,” Mike Woods said. The tent was destroyed, but their products were fine.
Scott Bennett said he was there to follow his wife, Lisa Bennett, around. She’s been coming for 30 years — she knows it’s that long because she missed a fair 31 years ago when she was having a baby. The Bennetts live in Pittsburg, Kan., and Scott Bennett didn’t always come along but now they have children living in this area. After visiting their kids tonight, they’ll move on to the War Eagle Fair tomorrow.
Steve Green was having his best day so far. He sells handmade blankets so the wet, cool weather actually helped.
A new tent this year, the Village Art Club Tent, had a good day on Thursday, fair director Elaine Reinke said. She had 28 of the artists who exhibit in Wishing Spring Gallery participate. Others didn’t want to move their merchandise to the tent, she said.
Reinke said that the fair wouldn’t close unless the Bella Vista Police asked her to close it. If there was a thunderstorm with lightning, the police might decide it wasn’t safe to be there, she said, but if it’s only rain, they will remain open.
Wrapped up in a quilt, surrounded by furniture her husband makes, Kristi Howard said they did a good business on Thursday and they expect Saturday to be good as well.
“We didn’t lose anything except our dignity,” she said.
Sandy Prill looks at her phone while waiting for customers at her booth, Prills Peacock Glass. She buys inexpensive glassware at thrift shops and recycles it.
The only sun to be found was inside a booth during Friday’s craft fair.
Samples of hot soup were popular during a rainy lunch hour at the Bella Vista Craft Fair.
Patti Gold and her daughter Jan Everly dressed for the weather before their annual trip to the craft fairs. They live about an hour away.
Brenda and Mike Woods call their floor cloths “functional art.” Rain won’t hurt it, Mike Woods said.
Inside the tents, crafts stayed dry, but the crowd was much smaller than usual on Friday.