Organizers are promising this year’s Christmas Arts and Craft Show in Elizabethton will be bigger and better than ever.
For the past two years, the annual event has been sponsored by the GFWC of Tennessee Elizabethton Woman’s Club after renovations at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park required the festival find a new home and sponsoring organization.
Club members Jo Voigt and Brenda Holdren have been largely responsible for organizing this year’s event.
Their biggest achievement has been finding a new permanent home for the show.
“We’re very fortunate to get a permanent home with Elizabethton Parks and Rec on Mill Street,” Holdren said. “We’re just anticipating a marvelous show this year.”
The women said they have also heard plenty of positive feedback regarding the new location, which replaces last year’s site at the National Guard Armory on Stoney Creek.
“The Park and Rec building will give us a lot more room,” Voigt said. “We have the auditorium and access to two side rooms. “It’s going to be so much bigger and better, with more room. We think people will be pleased with it.”
The show has also seen an increase in participating vendors.
“We have lots of new vendors this year,” Holdren said. “They will be offering everything from hand-painted items to decorative, illuminated cubes, as well as jewelry, creative floral arrangements, wreaths, wood crafts and lots of crocheted and knitted items.”
She said vendors at the show are coming from throughout the region, including Butler, Watauga, Roan Mountain, Unicoi, Johnson City, Bristol, Limestone, Greeneville, Jonesborough and Telford.
Elizabethton resident Brenda Townsend is one of the vendors set to participate in this year’s show. Although she will offer a variety of handcrafted items, she specializes in painted retro suitcases.
“I am all the time looking for old-timey suitcases at yard sales,” Townsend said.
Townsend has been a vendor at the craft show for the past eight years, starting when the show was still held at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park.
“It’s just something I like to do on the side,” she said. “Most of my items will have Christmas themes.”
Townsend said she was a 9-year-old girl when her grandmother taught her to crochet. She has continued to enjoy crafting ever since.
She said she also participates in the holiday bazaar at Oak Grove Christian Church.
“I just love making crafts,” Townsend said, although she admits that she is a bit of a procrastinator.
“I’m usually in a rush, rush, rush for about two months to get everything ready for this show,” she said.
Her hand-painted suitcases definitely stand out.
“A lot of people like to display them by sitting them on their front porch,” she said.
The Christmas suitcases can also serve a double purpose.
“A lot of people use them to store some of their Christmas ornaments in,” she said.
Townsend said she also paints items such as muffin tins, saws and old windows.
Stoney Creek mother and daughter crafters Betty Houghton and Judy Dingus are eagerly anticipating their debut as vendors at the upcoming show.
Houghton specializes in creating whimsical miniature gardens. These little scenes are decorated with a variety of themes ranging from fall and summer scenes to snowmen and penguins.
“I create them from little bird houses that I buy,” she said. “Then, I paint and decorate them.”
Both Houghton and her daughter were very impressed after attending last year’s show and decided they wanted to return — as vendors.
“I thought taking part in the show would be a fun thing to do,” Dingus said.
Making her hand-decorated wreaths has been a a fun pastime for her. Her mother has also enjoyed getting her own crafts ready for the show.
“I like to do stuff with my hands,” Houghton said. “I thought this would be a fun thing to do.”
Both women have been getting ready for the show. For Dingus, that means completing lots of holiday wreaths festooned with bows, ribbons and other decorative materials.
Dingus started making her wreaths for the show back in September.
“The bed in my guest room is covered with wreaths,” Dingus said.
Mother and daughter have also created some greeting cards, including ones bearing Christmas, Get Well and Thinking of You themes.
Houghton said she has worked on her tiny gardens for many years, often giving them away as gifts to friends and family members.
“I can make one in an evening, but I have to sit down and think about what I want it to look like,” she said. “I’m retired, and they’re fun to make.”
Houghton and Dingus will also offer hand-decorated paper towel holders for sale.
“James Millison makes and stains them,” Dingus said. “Then we decorate them.”
They’re both looking forward to the show.
“This is something totally new for us,” Dingus said.
Husband and wife Bob and Bobbie Bullock, Elizabethton, are veteran craftmakers.
“We mostly do primitive crafts,” Bobbie said. “We have our own business called Country Cabin Crafts.”
Her husband makes a lot of primitive furniture.
“I make hutches, tables, jelly cabinets and more,” he said.
They also operate a booth at Corner’s Nest Antiques in Elizabethton.
For their participation in the show, the couple will offer a variety of wood-cut decorations, including snowmen and Santa Clauses.
Bob cuts out the designs for their crafts and Bobbie provides the finishing touches, painting and decorating each piece.
“I’m doing all the hard parts,” Bob said with a laugh.
He said he may bring some examples of his furniture to the show, too.
“I can also take special orders for furniture,” he said.
“This is our second year taking part in the craft show,” Bobbie said. “Last year, our snowmen were a huge seller.”
The couple said the snowmen come in three different sizes — 3-feet-tall, 4-feet-tall and 5-feet-tall.
“They’re small, medium and large,” Bobbie said.
Something else new this year will be the concessions the members of the Woman’s Club will offer. The club will offer hot dogs, soup beans and cornbread, nachos and cheese, baked goods and assorted beverages, including hot chocolate, coffee and cold drinks.
This year’s show will be held on Friday-Saturday, Nov. 8-9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The Parks and Rec building is located at 300 W. Mill St., Elizabethton.