GAMBIER — With hand-crafted items selling well for the special occasion it was — like flying pink pig toys, giraffes fashioned from gourds, and natural remedies for aches such as rheumatoid arthritis — the Gambier Craft Sale celebrated a milestone Sunday.
Sunday was the craft sale’s 50th anniversary, and co-coordinator Mistie Wray, her family, and friends, made sure it would not disappoint those involved. They included more than 60 vendors and about 1,000 customers in attendance for four-plus hours inside the Kenyon College Athletic Center’s indoor track.
Wray honored the two women who co-founded the Gambier Craft Sale, Joyce Klein and Jo Rice, by presenting certificates of appreciation. Klein has been ill of late, but still worked with Wray on event logistics from her home. Wray will soon give Klein a three-panel posterboard, with the words “Joyce Klein, 50 years, Congrats,” and a photo of Klein in the center. She gave Rice, who attended the craft sale with her family, a certificate for the co-creation and support of the event, as Rice — known for spinning wool products — was involved in the Gambier Craft Sale its first decade. Klein has been involved all 50 years, which was reflected in her certificate.
“We needed a non-political way to get people together, and this was it,” Rice said. Both she and Klein are married to retired Kenyon professors — Charles Rice, a professor of psychology, and Bill Klein, a Professor Emeritus of English.
Klein and Rice held the first Gambier Craft Sales in places like a small building on Wiggin Street, the Harcourt Episcopalian Hall, the Knights of Pythias building, the old fieldhouse and Gund Commons — wherever they could find space. And the college was always supportive and obliging as was the village, because they knew the camaraderie the craft sale was producing in addition to sending patrons home happy with original hand-made crafts, Rice said.
Rice and her husband, Charles, attended Sunday’s craft sale with family members including three of their children, who offered some reminiscing about craft items they made for sale during the early years of the Gambier Craft Sale.
“I used to crochet Barbie Doll clothes, and I made a lot of money,” said their daughter, Elizabeth Forthofer.
Son Charlie Rice said he made macramé bracelets and hanging plant holders, as well as Inkle Loom belts of different colors.
“We would go around the craft show and try to trade with people who made other things,” he said.
Son Ted Rice also made Inkle Loom belts, offering, “I made belts, (but) the only one I can remember making was an American Flag belt.”
Wray has been the event co-coordinator for nine years, and said Klein’s absence lowered vendor attendance this year because vendors know Klein and many attend out of loyalty and friendship to her. Wray started her craft sale involvement by working with Klein in her space for 11 years — with Klein’s cakes and breads “always the first (items) to sell out,” she said, adding, “Joyce (Klein) and I have become really good friends over the years. And I am really blessed.”
Sunday’s craft makers were as talented as ever, noted Wray’s daughter, Evette, who was impressed by flying pink pig toys made by Kevin Frazee of Mount Vernon, a semi-retired contractor.
“I love everybody’s creations because these are things I would never think of doing,” Evette said.
Frazee, who also sculpted tables of different styles such as plant shapes, said the flying pigs are just simple crank toys that, when the crank is turned, “fly” with their wings going up and down.
“You are lucky, you just bought the last pink one,” he said to a happy buyer.
The best craft maker award this year went to Brad Moore of Mount Vernon and his small “gem trees” with tree “fruit” or leaves made of stones such as agate and garnet. The underside of the stones offer a silver color, making for an object that draws attention.
Looking at green stones on one gem tree, he offered, “That kind of stone, no matter how much light is around it, will glitter pretty good.”
The best booth award went to Woodland Herbal Apothecary of Warsaw, whose festive wooden ladders making a triangular opening, adorned with pine boughs and dried citrus, was a holiday drawing card for their homemade items.