Craft fair highlights local artisans

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On the second week in November, 35-40 local artisans will come together for the 31st Hearthside Crafters annual sale.

The craft fair has grown from its humble beginnings of five or six crafty friends coming together in the home of Beulah Woolcock to showcase their wares. As the fair gained popularity, it moved to the Forest Hills Clubhouse. Now at the Wilson County Agricultural Center, the fair can comfortably accommodate a greater number of local crafter talent.

“Each year it gets a little better. It’s a lot of fun to just watch people look through all the crafts,” said April Fletcher, who was passed the baton of organizing the annual event when Woolcock moved to Belize.

Fletcher, who worked as a nurse until retiring four years ago, is also a crafter. She caught the sewing bug at a very young age and never looked back.

“My mother taught us before we even started school, and then we had home economics,” Fletcher said. “I call it my therapy.”

Fletcher, who creates fun items such as American Girl doll dresses as well as bookmarks with built-in pen pockets for people who journal or walker satchels for disabled people to carry their personal items, said she is often inspired by beautiful fabric.

“There’s just something about the feel of the fabric and making something pretty. Plus, fabric is made so much better these days.”

Each year, hundreds of people attended the sale, held Nov. 8-10 this year. Fletcher said it is nice to see a mix of familiar and new faces each year peruse the various vendor booths and buy gifts.

“It’s a real compliment that someone would want to buy something that you made. It’s nice to give a handmade gift, and there’s not a lot of places you can buy them in Wilson.”

Fletcher said local crafters also appreciate having a place to showcase their work. Attendees can expect to find a variety of wares, including pottery, wreaths, handmade cards, baby items, paintings and outdoor art. In addition, some vendors offer baked goods, jams and pickled items.

“It’s a huge advantage to have something like this in Wilson because it gives vendors something to look forward to. It’s amazing how talented some of these crafters are.”

A $25 gift certificate toward the crafts is given as a door prize each day of the three-day event. There is also a 50/50 raffle that benefits Veterans Residential Services of Wilson, a private non-profit agency dedicated to providing quality support and services to its low-income veterans with the goal of residential stability in the community, according to its website.

“Since the sale falls close to Veterans’ Day, we thought this would be a nice way to give back. We hope to make even more money for them this year,” Fletcher said.

The Hearthside Crafters annual sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 10.

For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HearthsideCrafters/.