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One of the high school gyms filled with crafters as part of a previous Craft Fair(File Photo)

Whether crafty or inventive, it’s always important to find ways to show work to the community. For 37 years, Norwood Young America’s Community Education and St. John’s Lutheran School program has been working hard to help crafters, artists, and even small business vendors show their craft through their Craft and Business Vendor Fair.

“It started out just in the high school with about 50 booths as a fundraiser for the Community Education program for some new programs or scholarship dollars,” said Julie Kuenzel, Community Ed Director. “Now it has three locations and 250 booths.”

The two fairs started out together, only taking place in Central High School with about 50 booths. Everything that was either handmade or business-vendor related (think Tupperware, authors, Mary Kay) was housed in one building. Now, 37 years later, the two fairs are now more split up, with the Craft Fair portion taking place at the high school and Central Elementary School while the Business Vender Fair takes place mainly at St. John’s Lutheran School. While separate, the two are still synergized with shuttles taking patrons between the three locations, allowing everyone to really get a chance to see, well, everything.

The Craft Fair demands handmade items, but this still has a wide variety of possibilities. Everything from honey, jam, jewelry, carving, and even homemade ice fishing rods. According to Kuenzel, there aren’t many duplicates, and even if there are, they are still different from one another. With 250 crafters from all around Minnesota and even outside of it visiting, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see similar yet different crafts.

The Business Vendor Fair is only at St. John’s, and features roughly 50 vendors. Anyone with a small business or that would like to be featured is welcome, and there’s a wide range of people here as well. Authors, clothing vendors, Tupperware, and more. Businesses around town, such as home-based businesses, will sometimes even have deals or signs throughout town to bring people in as well, there will be plenty of options around town as well, just not part of the shuttle route.

“It’s a great way to get people out into the community,” said Kuenzel. “If you’ve never been here, it’s crazy. There can be over a thousand people visiting.”

Those visitors aren’t just from around Carver County, either. The crafters can be from the Dakotas, Duluth, Wisconsin, and more, they bring shoppers with them. Not necessarily from out of state, but the draw of the unique crafters certainly attracts more attention.

And these are popular fairs for the crafters and vendors as well. According to Kuenzel, though many of the same vendors return, there’s still a decent turnover for them. She estimated anywhere between 30 and 35 percent every year are new to the fairs. And the demand is getting bigger.

“Typically we refill about the middle of October,” said Kuenzel. “But this year we filled up before October.”

Crafters and vendors are now on a waiting list about 50 people long at time of interview. And that’s after the high school and elementary school had additions like the auditorium and a new gym. Each vendor pays $50 a booth to feature their crafts and businesses, with the money from this going to scholarships and programs for Community Ed. The profits from selling crafts and goods go to the vendors themselves, and with the event as popular as it is, Kuenzel stated that the vendors prepare quite a bit just to keep up.

The Fairs will be taking place November 23 from 9am-3pm and takes place at Central Elementary School, Central High School, and St. John’s Lutheran School in Norwood Young America, which are part of the shuttle line. While many of the booths do take cards, now, it is recommended to bring cash just in case. There is also very little parking, hence the shuttle system. There will be businesses, home or otherwise, also joining in the fun so it’s also recommended to keep your eyes open. For anyone interested getting on the waiting list, visit the Community Ed website, https://www.raiders.central.k12.mn.us/domain/599.

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