Exhibitors have successful day at 37th annual Holiday Bazaar

Thousands of people blew into the Community Building on Sunday for the 37th annual Holiday Bazaar, an arts and crafts show that kicks off the holiday season in Lawrence.

Exhibitors from all around the region sold a variety of handmade items such as jewelry, pottery, yard art and knitted hats, gloves and scarves. Near the back of the room, people purchased slices of homemade pies and caramel brittle.

The event usually draws between 4,000 to 5,000 people, and Duane Peterson, special event supervisor for Lawrence Parks and Recreation, said this year’s Bazaar was one of the best attended.

“We’ve had a really good, steady crowd all day,” Peterson said. “People are buying, not just looking, and everybody is in good holiday spirits. Everybody I’ve talked to has done real well.”

Peterson explained that part of the success might be due to a change in hours. Previously, the event was held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year, at the recommendation of several exhibitors, the Bazaar began at 9 a.m., with vendors packing up their booths closer to 4 p.m..

This change was a plus for at least one of the 130 exhibitors. Erica Schott, owner of Barefoot Sewing, broke even at about 10:30 a.m.

Schott, a Lawrence resident, uses an automatic embroidery machine to sew patches, hats and costumes that she describes as “geeky.” Though her main sources of income are her online store and sales at science fiction conventions, Schott decided to give the Holiday Bazaar a shot for the first time.

“I’m doing really well; there is a lot of traffic,” Schott said Sunday afternoon. “It was a matter of getting the right people out of bed and to the show.”

Another change may be in store for the event.

Peterson said he hopes to use the new Lawrence Recreation Center at Rock Chalk Park if it is complete in time for next year’s Holiday Bazaar.

This would be an upgrade, Peterson said, because all of the exhibitors could be stationed on one floor, instead of split onto two levels like at the Community Building. It would also allow for more exhibitors. The 130 spots allotted for booths were filled two months ago, and other vendors were placed on a waiting list.

The new recreation center would have space for double this number, Peterson said.

“This would be a big plus,” Peterson said. “We’re looking forward to that hopefully working out.”