Christmas shoppers get early start at Centreplex
Before Black Friday and Super Saturday, thousands of shoppers in Macon get a jump on gift buying at Christmas Made in the South.
The annual arts and crafts show at the Macon Centreplex drew an estimated 15,000 people this weekend. The event features a wide array of gift options ranging from original paintings to crafts that cost just a few dollars, as well as many food items.
The show has been in Macon for 24 years, said Russ Hunt, executive director of Carolina Shows, which puts on the event. He said it appeals to people who are looking for a more personal type of gift than what they could get at a big-box store.
“It’s nice to see people wanting to buy something handmade, something with a story, and not something from Wal-Mart,” Hunt said. “I shop there and I love it but it doesn’t have the same personal story of something that you get here because you get to meet the artists and craftsmen here.”
The show featured over 300 vendors from across the country, including some from Macon.
Steve Nofs of Macon was there selling honey he gets from the 60 hives he keeps in Lizella. He also had beeswax candles that he made, and he had some live bees in a contained glass box. Nofs said he has come to the show for the past six years and he had his busiest show this year.
“I think having Veterans Day on the first day of the show probably had something to do with it,” he said. “We also have a lot of repeat customers. As they have learned about us being here they come back every year.”
Another vendor selling a food product was Mike Crum of Loganville. He is owner of Smack Yo Mama Barbeque Sauce and was selling eight varieties with names that included “Death Wish” and “Toxic Waste,” as well as some milder sauces. He said the sauces are all hand-made at home with natural ingredients.
“We wanted to let people know that there is a healthier option that isn’t loaded with preservatives,” Crum said.
He had samples out and people could try each one by dipping a pretzel stick. Kacie Smith of Warner Robins went right to “Toxic Waste,” which is made with 50 percent habanero peppers.
“It’s very, very good,” she said after giving it a taste, without so much as a flinch.
She said she has come to the show for years and she always stops at Crum’s booth to buy some sauce. She said she gets a fair amount of her Christmas shopping done at the show.
“I get my kids an ornament every year, so we have an ornament for every year we’ve been to the show,” she said.
Anyone who missed the show this year can get another chance next weekend in Savannah. The show will be at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center from Friday to Sunday.