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28th annual Kris Kringle Craft Show draws early morning shoppers

November 19, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Sally Seeders, left, and Sherry Sechler, right, both of Shepherdstown shop at the Country Expressions booth owned by Terry Stottlemeyer, center, of Clear Spring, Saturday during the annual Kris Kringle craft show at the Hagerstown Community College Athletic, Recreation and Community Center.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

If there is such a thing as a collecting gene, the Kirsche family has it.

Gretchen Kirsche collects angels. Her husband, Max, has an affinity for Santas, and 16-year-old daughter Cassie hasn't met a snowman she doesn't love.

"Combined, we probably have over 100 pieces of themed figurines, ornaments, dolls and decorations," Gretchen Kirsche said.

But they're always searching for one more, "especially if it's unique and one of a kind."

In most cases, she said, that means handmade.

That's why the Kirsches arrived early Saturday at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center for the 28th annual Kris Kringle Craft Show.

"We always find something special here," the Boonsboro woman said. "Nothing is mass produced or run-of-the-mill. That's what keeps us coming back year after year."

The Kirsches were among hundreds of people who arrived an hour before the 9 a.m. start time to find a parking place and get an early jump on their holiday gift and decorating purchases.

"They were lined up clear around the building," show promoter Linda Williams said. "Shoppers were ready to shop."

Last year, more than 10,000 people attended the two-day show, she said.

"With the great weather and our expanded advertising, we're hoping to exceed last year's numbers and have a banner year," she said.

The show continues today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Williams said visitors to the show will have an opportunity to browse the stalls of about 250 vendors, offering everything from Christmas decorations to food items.

"It's a juried show, which means that everything is handcrafted," she said. "There are no wholesalers here, which separates us from many other shows."

Williams said she travels to about five or six states during the year in search of vendors who can provide a wide variety of unique items.

After today, she'll take a rest "and then start all over again for next year."

A new addition to this year's show, Williams said, is a Children's Shopping Village, where youngsters can do their own gift buying.

"Over the years, I've heard parents tell their kids 'there's nothing here for you. This is for Mommy,'" she said. "Well, now there is something for them. They can buy presents for their parents, siblings, grandparents, best friends, with the cost of items ranging between 50 cents and $6."

Williams said helpers dressed as elves will gift wrap the children's purchases for free.

In addition to being a well-attended shopping experience, the show also is a charity event, with the proceeds from a $1 admission fee going to local agencies, Williams said. Last year, more than $10,000 was donated to the Parent Child Center. This year, the recipient will be Children's Village of Washington County.

Carrying a bag overflowing with purchases, Bonnie Urbik of Chambersburg, Pa., said she has attended the Kris Kringle Craft Show for more than 20 years.

"It's become a tradition," she said. "My sister and I always kick off our holiday shopping here. It's fun, the items are wonderful and it actually gets me in the holiday spirit."

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If you go

What: Kris Kringle Craft Show

When: Today, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Hagerstown Community College Athletic, Recreation and Community Center

Cost: Admission costs $1. Proceeds benefit Children's Village of Washington County.

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