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Monday, Oct 02nd

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One-stop show for holiday gifts

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Crowds feel festive at Larry Brian Mitchell Recreation Center

The hustle and bustle of Christmas was certainly felt at the Larry Brian Mitchell Recreation Center Dec. 3-4 with the Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair.

A local holiday tradition in Gallup once again drew in the festive shoppers as they look for those unique whimsical homemade gifts just in time for Christmas. Behind the planning was Michelle Burrola, recreation manager for the City of Gallup. In an interview with the Sun, Burrola said this year’s event was yet another huge success with the numbers proving it.

“This event has been doing well the past [several] years and is only getting better and bigger,” Burrola said. “Just alone on Saturday we hit about 1,200 to 1,500 people coming through our doors, with another 700 to 800 people on Sunday.”

Burrola said the biggest draw is that vendors bring in items that customers want and need, as well as the timing of the event.

“When I came to this position, my goal was to attract tourists, so that was why I moved the fair closer to the Balloon Rally,” she explained. “That way we get all the people [here] and it actually panned out, even though there were other things taking place in the area.”

The fair accommodated over 58 vendors this year and had to turn away over 40 on the waiting list. The event drew vendors not only from McKinley County, but coming from as far as Sanders, Ariz., and Colorado.

The two-day event fee for the vendors was only $50, making it reasonable for more vendors to sell their items. Burrola says it’s a great event to come and buy those special Christmas gifts. Aside from perusing all the vendor tables, a door raffle is held every half-hour for both the customers and vendors themselves.

“We do two raffles for the patrons and the same for the vendors. And the vendors themselves donate items that somebody will win, a simple donation from their booth,” Burrola explained.

With so many vendors on hand, there was so much to see and smell at the arts and craft fair, such as delicious smelling Christmas baked goods, scented candles, stunning glass ornaments, unique jewelry, beautiful Christmas wreaths, and warm cozy winter scarfs.

One vendor that has always been a hit for the past 12 years, dubbed the Majeda of Gallup, sells designer purses. It’s her primary business, so Majeda does this all year round and works out of her house, but she always makes it a point to come out to the craft fair. Selling handbags and wallets of different colors/styles, she said she’s done well over the past years and has customers eagerly awaiting her arrival to the event.

When asked what keeps her coming back year after year  Majeda simply stated, it’s the people.

“The people, my customers, are what keeps me coming back,” she said. “I have long-time customers and always make new ones and friendships develop out of it.”

With various craft fairs throughout the county, Majeda says this is the only one that she attends to sell her items simply for the fact that it is the busiest and that the vendor fee is very fair.

Down each aisle, talented artisans with their arts and crafts made it hard to choose what gift to buy, such as the creative vendor, Mitzi Sanchez, of Gallup, also known as the “The Grinch Lady.” On hand she had hand-painted ornaments, candy jars, and wreaths all done in the traditional Grinch-style motif. Marketing them as stocking stuffers, Sanchez said everything is hand-painted and all homemade with a little help from her granddaughter.

“We really enjoy doing this and we do this every year, and it’s just great seeing everyone turn out for the event. It’s good for the community to be a part of it all and it’s good for Gallup,” Sanchez said.

Amidst all the chattering, ooh’s and aw’s, customers could be heard praising the fair and what will be coming next. Various vendors stated that it’s always good to shop at these events not only for the gifts but keeping the craftsmanship alive and well.

Burrola agreed that purchasing a gift from the event not only helps the local economy, but it also keeps that hometown spirit and Christmas spirit alive. She noted that plans are already in the works for the upcoming Spring 2023 arts and crafts fair with advertising being done in the latter part of February.

The fair will take place the last part of April, early May and gearing towards Mother’s Day and graduation.

By Dee Velasco
For the Sun