Craft mavens find haven in weekend shows

Sunday, November 23, 2003

CHRIS PAGANO * cpagano@semissourian.com

At Southeast Missouri State University Center Ballroom princesses were crowned at an event sponsored by the women of Junior Panhellenic and Panhellenic and governing councils representing Southeast Missouri State University sororities Saturday. Sorority women served as mentors in a program designed to build self esteem and teach basic etiquette for girls 5 to 8 years old. Elizabeth Kiefner is seen receiving her princess crown, sceptre and certificate. By Chris Pagano ~ The Associated Press

Committed craft-show enthusiasts were in their element Saturday with as many as 700 vendors to shop, five venues to choose from around Cape Girardeau and Jackson -- and several colorful snowmen for sale.

There's plenty of variety at the Christmas Extravaganza, River Valley Craft Club Christmas Expo and the 33rd annual Christmas Arts and Craft Extravaganza, all of which continue today.

Weekend crowds are expected to exceed 10,000 at the Show Me Center, which reported 2,000 admissions an hour after opening on Saturday.

The festive holiday mood was enhanced with new merchandise: Santa Claus faces painted on magnolia leaves; wine bottles wrapped with strands of lights and decorated with a sprig or two of plastic fruit.

The best-selling item at the Dee-Jewel candle and soap booth, an operation run by two stay-at-home moms, was gel soap in a plastic bag with a toy fish resembling Nemo in the middle. "We call it straight from the county fair," said Dee Ann Vargas, part-owner of the business.

Coffee soap, a black-colored bar, was promoted as an important item to stock for the hunter. Vargas said it eliminates fish and game odors as well as garlic and onions.

Betty Jones of Jonesboro, Ill., a 20-year craft show veteran, attended with a group of women, some related, some not. Jones' daughter-in-law, Paula, called it a female bonding experience.

Chaffee residents Jennifer Vandeven and her sister, Renee Burnett, locate good, inexpensive Christmas gifts at craft shows. At Belinda Rellergert's booth, Burnett eyed snowmen.

"I collect snowmen," she explained.

In business for at least a dozen years, Rellegert believes her success in snowman merchandising is due to the choice of colors.

"Blue, green and burgundy are colors you can continue decorating with all year long," she said. "People say mine have a friendly look."

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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