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Kris Kringle Craft Show promoter energetic about event

November 16, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- Linda Williams has salesmanship in her blood.

After about a 25-year career as director of sales for what is now the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Hagerstown, Williams retired several years ago and transferred her energy to the Kris Kringle Craft Show.

Taking on the job as promoter of the show was a good fit, allowing her to combine her passion for crafts, Christmas and sales. It also allows Williams, 62, to give back to the community, since she volunteers her time in that role.

The craft show was begun by Darlene Strock and Ted Eichelberger. Strock is Williams' cousin and owner of The Country Peddler in Hagerstown.

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The event began as a local fundraiser through which nonperishable foods and toys were collected for distribution by the late Haven Hoffman, long known in the community as Mrs. Santa Claus.

The 26th Annual Kris Kringle Craft Show will be Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center at Hagerstown Community College, where there is space for 250 vendors. The proceeds of the show from vendor fees -- minus advertising, printing, postage, travel and miscellaneous expenses -- go to local nonprofit organizations.

Last year, and again this year, Hospice of Washington County Inc. was designated as the recipient. Williams said the organization helped her family through the death of both of her parents within the past year.

Williams, a 1965 South Hagerstown High School graduate, said about $3,000 was donated to Hospice last year and she felt the need to raise more this year. As a result, she made the decision to charge a $1 admission fee per person this year, with the total admission receipts going to Hospice.

"We always said we would never charge, and here we are charging. If we could give $10,000 to $15,000 to a local charity every year, it would be wonderful," Williams said.

Williams estimated that about 15,000 people came through the doors last year.

Food and toy donations are still welcome and will continue to be donated to Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown. Those items are distributed in holiday baskets to needy local families, Williams said.

Organizing the show is almost a full-time job, Williams said. Since it is a juried craft show, she travels to five states to visit new vendors and other shows during the year.

She said about 75 percent of the vendors return each year and there is a waiting list of about 60 vendors. She promotes the event in four states, she said.

"These last two months are the craziest times. It's just wild. You hardly have time to take a break other than to breathe," Williams said.

She said her husband of 42 years, Larry, is a big help with the show. It takes most of the day Friday to mark the ARCC floor, designating where the vendors' spaces are, she said.

Williams now uses a walker outside of the house due to a four-year battle with fibromyalgia.

"This is what gives me the drive, because I have to keep going," Williams said.

For more information about the Kris Kringle Craft Show, call Linda Williams at 301-582-1233 or 301-331-1233.

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