It’s evolved into a yearly tradition and event that’s eagerly anticipated by vendors and residents alike, but Destin’s Spring Craft Show started out as just a small exhibit of wood carvings and paintings created by artist groups working out of the Destin Community Center, says Lisa Firth, the center’s Deputy Recreation and Parks Director.
“So I thought, Oh, let’s display what you guys do, so we had a small art show,” says Firth. “Then they started wanting to buy the wood carvings and the paintings and they were like, Can we sell them? Then we had people who wanted to sell other things like jewelry and stuff, so I’m like, Okay, why don’t we just have a craft show?”
Word soon spread and attracted artisans from across Northwest Florida who work with everything from fabric and pine needles to jewelry and glass. With the influx of Snowbirds and little competition from other events during the down season, large crowds are expected. In fact, as of February 1, only nine of the 74 vendor booths were still available, says Firth. She estimates about three quarters of the vendors sign up year after year.
Now in its ninth year, the Spring Craft Show 2017 will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18. Nearly every available nook and cranny at the center, located at 101 Stahlman Avenue, will be filled with vendors selling everything from handcrafted jewelry, fused glass and honey to key chains, shadow boxes, handcrafted shirts and wooden trays and carvings.
Destin resident Dianne Carpenter has had a booth at the fair every year since its inception, selling holiday décor and pre-made silk floral arrangements, as well as taking any custom orders that come her way. Like most of the vendors there, Carpenter’s business started out as a hobby to make gifts for family and friends. “I had so much fun with it and I didn’t want to stop doing it,” she says, so she responded to a call for vendors for the first craft fair in 2008.
“I do get a lot of repeat customers. They come in and look for me, and if I don’t have what they want, they tell me what they want and we take it from there.”
At press time, Jana Baldwin was in the process of closing her store All Things Girlfriend, located on Main Street in Destin. She shared the business, along with a booth at the craft show, with business partner Carol Musso of CSide Jewelry & Design.
At the craft show, Musso will be selling items from the shuttered store, including yarn and pearl, leather and crystal jewelry “and handing out coupons for additional discounts for things that were not sold in the store, which we have moved to our warehouse,” says Baldwin.
The former All Things Girlfriend location will undergo some changes and is set to reopen March 1 as Coastal Stitches. New owner Michele VanGaan will have such offerings as quilting and knitting materials and fabrics, and offer a wide variety of classes.
Meanwhile, local author Rachel Gripp will be selling copies of her mystery novels Pursuit of the Frog Prince and Continued Pursuit of the Frog Prince, as well as her latest, A Game of Wits. Published in January 2016, A Game of Wits centers around the chance meeting, whirlwind romance and hasty marriage of two Americans who meet in Italy. The Frog Prince novels follow a detective determined to find a woman who disappears after a dinner party.
The craft show is FREE to attend. Full-time Destin residents pay $45 to rent a space for the two-day event, while non-residents are charged $55.
“We try to keep it pretty low-cost for our locals,” says Firth, adding she likes “to have a place for my locals to let their talents shine.”
– Kimberly White
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