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Hundreds arrive early for Kris Kringle Craft Show

November 21, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN -- About 30 years ago, Mary Donegan lost all of her Christmas ornaments when a creek jumped its banks near her home in West Virginia and turned her basement into a muddy lake.

Yet her Christmas tree that year was one she always will remember.

With no time to buy trinkets, Donegan said she decorated it with whatever was on hand -- mittens, pine cones, even plastic spoons attached to ribbons.

After the holidays, she began replacing the ornaments she had lost. And slowly, a collection -- and a hobby -- began to grow.

Today, Donegan said she has hundreds of ornaments -- enough to dress five trees in her Hagerstown home.

But she's always searching for just one more.

Her favorites?

"Anything handmade," she said. "They're unique, not run-of-the-mill."

Donegan expected to add to her collection Saturday when she visited the 26th annual Kris Kringle Craft Show at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.

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First, she had to get through the door.

Hundreds of shoppers arrived an hour before the 9 a.m. start time to secure a parking place and a chance to get an early start on their holiday gift and decorating purchases.

"There was a line from the lobby to the parking lot," show promoter Linda Williams said. "It's a very popular and successful event."

Last year, a record 15,000 people visited the two-day show.

With good weather expected for this weekend, organizers are hoping another attendance record can be set.

The show continues today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition to being a fun shopping experience, the show also is a charity event, Williams said. Last year, and again this year, after expenses, all proceeds will go to Hospice of Washington County.

"We donated more than $3,000 to the organization last year," Williams said. "This year, with a new $1 admission fee, we're hoping the donation will be more substantial."

Visitors to this year's show will have the opportunity to browse the stalls and tables of about 250 vendors, offering everything from Christmas wreaths to food items, she said.

"I travel all year, handpicking my vendors to make sure this is a top quality show. I think people appreciate that," she said. "I often get nice comments from people, thanking me for my efforts."

Addie Cushing of Waynesboro, Pa., said she likes attending the Kris Kringle Craft Show because of the quality items.

"I've been coming here for years," she said. "Everything is top-notch. This is the one holiday show that I never want to miss."

Following the Kris Kringle Craft Show, Williams said she might have a few days to rest. Then, she begins planning a spring show that is held each year two weeks before Mother's Day.

"This is a full-time job," she said.

If you go



What: 26th annual Kris Kringle Craft Show

When: Today, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center

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