Once Halloween is over, it often seems like it's just a few short weeks until Christmas arrives with all of the many special holiday events. Right now, the Boone Boosters 4-H club is deep into the planning stages for one of those events.
The Holiday Craft Fair has been a tradition in Webster City for more than two decades. The event was originally hosted by the Webster City Women's Club at the Ed Prince Building.
"At one point, our club was asked to help with the lunch at the Holiday Fair," said Boone Booster Leader Pat Rittscher. "When the Women's Club decided to give up the craft fair, we decided to continue on with it."
Amy Shannon, Pat Rittscher and Donna Ryherd, leaders of the Boone Boosters 4-H Club, and club member Grace Hoffmann, look over the poster for the upcoming Holiday Craft Fair. The fair, sponsored by the 4-H club, will be held Nov. 10 at St. Thomas Parish Center.
That was 10 years ago. The first few years, the 4-H club hosted the event at the Webster City Middle School, but in recent years, the fair has been held at the St. Thomas Parish Center.
With an event of this size, planning and coordination is important, the leaders said. Each leader takes one element of the fair to organize with the help of the 4-H'ers. One handles the bake sale, another handles the lunch, while other leaders keep watch over the admissions to the event and a community service project.
Rittscher said she starts announcing the fair in the first part of September and puts out the call for vendors.
"I start asking for vendors in several publications and really, wherever I can," she said. Once the vendor applications are received, the group sends out confirmation letters and information.
"With the vendors, we have a lot of repeat participants, so that makes getting the word out a little easier. They kind of know when the event is coming up," said leader Amy Shannon. "They let us know what they need, like outlets or tables," Shannon said.
The 4-H'ers help spread the word by posting flyers about the event all over the community. The club members also have an opportunity to work in the various stations on the day of the fair, which leaders say provide learning opportunities for all involved.
"They learn about making change with the admissions and greeting people. They learn about safe food handling with the lunch and bake sale," said leader Donna Ryherd. The young people also help with the set up and make sure vendors find their spots. Throughout the day, Ryherd said the club members check with vendors to see if they need snacks or lunch brought to their booth.
"In some cases, it may be just one person in the booth so they can't leave it unattended," Ryherd said.
Grace Hoffmann, who has been in 4-H for 4 years, said she enjoys working at the holiday fair.
"I like how we get to do the different things like work in the kitchen and work at the craft table," she said.
This year, the organizers said there will be a wide variety of vendors displaying their wares. Some are handcrafted items like Hardinger and crocheted items, handbags, jewelry, blankets, homemade jams and jellies and others.
"It's really a nice assortment of products," said Rittscher.
The proceeds from the event are often donated to local causes.
"We've donated to the show ring at the fairgrounds, helped with tables there, donated to Upper Des Moines Opportunity and helped with Kids Against Hunger," said Hoffmann.
"We try to make sure that some of the funds get back into the community," said Ryherd.
And the club has a little fun with the proceeds, as well, taking in a special event each August, such as visiting Sky Zone, going to Adventureland or an aquatic center.The club also uses funds to assist with club memberships.
The club has tried a variety of dates for the event, from October to December, but with the uncertainty of Iowa's winter weather,they said they have found early November to be the best. They said they're hoping that the moderate weather will out for this year's event.