KINGSTON — When two horse-drawn carriages stopped by Earth Dance Pottery on West First Street on Saturday morning, the crowd that packed the art studio bustled outside to see the newest attraction to Kingston’s Country Christmas.
The carriages were just the beginning of the new additions to old traditions as the Kingston Revitalization Association’s plans to add daytime events to the once evening-oriented event unfolded.
Saturday’s festivities focused on localized Christmas shopping, then added carolers, horse carriage rides and a craft show to the extravaganza.
The Kingston Junior High Choir entertained vendors and customers at the old Apple Tree Pharmacy with holiday carols as people milled around the booths at the craft fair.
Ken Reite, who was manning his wife’s booth of Christmas decorations and sterling silver jewelry, was interested in seeing how the craft fair’s first run would turn out.
“I think it needs to develop a track record,” Reite said of the slow morning. “But it was cool to have kids singing.”
It will be bigger next year, he assured, noting that, “It will become more of a tradition.”
Jeanne Hauck, a Poulsbo artist, said shoppers don’t really seem to be aware how soon Christmas really is and noted that there were just three December Saturdays before the big day.
“With the weather so phenomenal, people don’t realize how close it is,” she said. “The weather has people not thinking of Christmas.”
But crafter Kathleen Keene said the point is to shop local.
“Who wants to go Christmas shopping in a mall and fight the crowds?” Keene said, noting that holiday gift buying can be completed down the street from friends and neighbors, who sell handmade and homemade items.
While Corena Chamberlain of Corena’s Creation’s said she can’t make enough luminaries to keep up with customers’ demands, Paula Erickson of Pine Cone Gifts, said she hoped the craft fair continues in the future.
“I hope it goes well,” she remarked. “(Co-organizer Stephanie Stebbings) started this — we have to have one every year now!”
And Stebbings said the feedback from everyone she talked to on Saturday was very positive.
“I felt like for the first time ever event, it really brought people into town,” she said, adding that was the partially the point. “They were really enthusiastic about it and we’ll make it bigger and better next year.”
Down the street, a new art gallery was in step with the holiday shopping spirit as the West First Street Art Gallery held its grand opening.
Owned by Jana and Srecko Kramberger, the gallery featured several Slovenian artists, Indianola woodcarver David Franklin, jewelry pieces and Tiny Town Miniatures, which was selling small items for dollhouses.
The gallery also displays a piece of work similar to those that grace the home of the Emperor of China. Slovenian artist Franc Grom took a simple eggshell and cut out intricate designs on it using a laser, Jana Kramberger said, noting Grom that is world-renowned for these works.
Srecko, a Slovenian artist, collected the egg when he went back to Slovenia to pick up some art. The egg on display in Kingston has 4,130 holes in it, according to the certificate of authenticity.
Jana Kramberger said she and her husband have been looking forward to the day they could open their own gallery.
“We have this great space,” she said. “It’s been a dream (to have a gallery), especially of my husbands’.”