Not everything at the popular Christmas Made in the South arts and crafts festival is actually made in the South, but it does have to be made in the USA.
As hundreds of people milled around the vendors at the Macon Coliseum on Saturday, show director Bob Hunt attributed its popularity to high standards for the more than 200 vendors to get in the show. A committee examines each vendor to ensure the items are unique and of a high quality, and that the sellers make the items themselves. No imported items are allowed.
People can get one-of-a-kind, unique items they are not going to find anywhere else, and the prices are very reasonable because they are buying directly from the person who is making it, Hunt said.
He expects approximately 20,000 people to attend the three-day event, which ends Sunday. The crowd was so large Saturday that it was difficult to walk from booth to booth.
Hunt said attendance looks about the same as last year, which was a record year. Even he was a little perplexed to explain the continuing large turnout when so many people are cutting spending. However, he said one possibility may be that the wide variety of items actually allows people to get their Christmas shopping done in one place, which can save money.
Items range in price from a couple of bucks to $900 for an original painting.
Vendors came from around the country, but most are from the Southeast, Hunt said, and a few are local.
Maryllis Wolfgang of Milledgeville is a photographer who puts her work on cotton canvas, which gives it a painting effect. Large framed prints were selling for $200 or more. She and her husband, Jim, go to about 15 to 20 shows each year and Christmas Made in the South is one of the largest they attend, she said.
She enjoys taking her work to shows.
Its just the interaction with people as they come in and look at the artwork, she said. It just feels good when people stop in the middle of the aisle and sit there and say Wow.
Ginny Tanner of Eastman comes to the show each year with her daughter, Jennifer Giddens. They had bought some Christmas tree ornaments.
We just a take a girls day and get a bunch of us together and we just come, Tanner said. We leave the guys at home.
The Middle Georgia Woodworkers Association was raffling off a large playhouse valued at $5,000, with tickets costing $1. It is patterned after an Old West sheriffs office, complete with a small cell in the rear with a bed. The proceeds benefit Rebuilding Macon, which fixes up homes for the low-income elderly and disabled homeowners.
The show is put on by Carolina Shows Inc., based in Charlotte, N.C. It travels to seven cities, and the Macon show is one of the largest, even though other cities have larger populations, Hunt said.
It continues Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6.