The 36th annual Holiday Gift and Food Fair took place Nov. 17-19 at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. An eagerly awaited tradition in Kitsap, this year marked the 36th anniversary, and it remains a production of its original organizers, #1 Productions.
Also that weekend, the Kitsap Mineral and Gem Society held its Annual Fall Festival of Gems.
David and Barb Andersen, the faces behind organizers #1 Productions, began the event as a craft fair at North Kitsap High School, while Anderson was vice principal there. It eventually grew to the scale at which the best venue in the county became the Sun Pavillion.
Andersen said that throughout the tenure of the fair, he saw the event as a service to all concerned. The vendors (local craftsmen and artists) benefit through the exposure, and the public benefits by being given access to the local art community during the season of gift-giving, and so benefits as well.
The Andersens have kept the booth fees for exhibitors at just a fraction of what similar events in other cities charge. He and his crew also record and photograph the booths and displays of every exhibit, and make note of their revenues as well. Andersen uses the information when vetting applicants to make sure the show is the best it can be each year.
Andersen anticipated over 6,000 guests during the three days of the event. And of the 177 exhibitors, a high percentage were repeat customers. The fair again hosted 2 Amazing Wizards Kettle Korn, a food vendor run by Bob and James Weiler, which has been present every year since the fair’s inception.
As to the future of the fair, Andersen said that given his and his wife’s ages, and that family members have taken larger roles in recent years, he plans to gradually relinquish the reins.
As in previous years, the gem show filled the fairground’s Presidents Hall with vendors, Society exhibits, activities, demonstrations and even an auction.
Danielle Foss, the festival’s chair, said that over 3,000 visitors were anticipated for the free event. Foss said the intent of the festival was really one of outreach, education and love for the study of mineralogy.
Some of the 20 gem, mineral and jewelry vendors orchestrated activities as well. Foss said the most popular activity historically has been the geode cracking display run by John Cornish Minerals. Kids younger than grade school could be seen lugging rocks around to see them broken open to see what was inside.