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Craft fair is the ‘traditional start to the holiday season’

Posted: Friday, Nov 29th, 2013

A vendor at the annual Heritage Holiday Craft & Gift Fair arranges colorful scarves at her display at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in 2008. (File photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Forget those controversial chain stores opening for holiday shopping on Thanksgiving and skip the Black Friday sales.

Instead, soak in the small-town holiday vibe at the annual Heritage Holiday Craft and Gift Fair, which opens at noon Friday at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and runs all weekend.

The event, in its 33rd year, has been dubbed the “traditional start to the holiday season in the Pajaro Valley” and organizers pride themselves on the family-friendly, country Christmas atmosphere.

Vendors vie for booth space at the holiday sale, which fills three buildings at the fairgrounds. They must submit photos of their work and booth set-up to the volunteer-run Heritage Foundation, which selects the exhibitors each year.

“That’s the uniqueness of our event; that’s the uniqueness of our gifts,” said Ron Haedicke, a co-chair of the event.

Haedicke said several new artists will join the fair this year, in addition to old favorites. There are “a lot of new things that are really gorgeous-looking, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind gifts,” he said.

The event is a fundraiser for the Santa Cruz County Fair. The Heritage Foundation took over the craft fair nine years ago and, after a one-year hiatus, revived the event. About 3,500 people attended the three-day craft fair last year.

A team of 15 volunteers make the event happen.

“We just have a lot of fun with it,” Haedicke said.  

Haedicke described what a customer might see walking through one of the buildings during the craft fair: antiques, bird houses, jams and jellies, fudge, coffee, aprons, quilts, kids’ clothes, poinsettias, outdoor yard art, garden planter beds, jewelry, spices, olives, handbags, leather-bound memory books, elixirs, handmade wooden toys and gourds decorated for Christmas.

“They make nice giving,” Haedicke said. “It’s a fun place to shop.”

But it’s not all shopping. Santa will make an appearance at the craft fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 7 and Santa Cruz County Railroad Historical Society will be open Dec. 7 as well. All weekend, visitors can drive a farm tractor around the fairgrounds and tour the historic Rodgers House.

The Family Faith Center and the fair’s Junior Livestock group will be cooking enchiladas and tri-tip sandwiches, and Gizdich Ranch staff will be serving pies with a big dollop of whipped cream and hot cider.

Hours are noon-8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7 and Dec. 8. Admission is $3; children 5 and younger are free. Look for a $1 off coupon on the front page of Thursday’s Register-Pajaronian newspaper; it’s good for up to 10 people.

For information, visit www.sccfheritage.org/heritage-holiday-craft-fair.

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