With temperatures in the mid to high 70s, Saturday didn’t feel much like the Christmas season, but the spirit seemed alive inside two pavilions at the Richmond Raceway Complex, where crowds neck and neck shopped and browsed for homemade crafts. and works of art for sale during the 43rd edition of the Craftsmen’s Christmas Classic.
Promoters expected larger crowds than the estimated 15,000 people who attended last year’s three-day event – the first after the COVID-19 pandemic – and art salesman Mark Adams was very happy to see the full house on Saturday.
“The crowd was great, as you can see,” said Adams, an artist from Hanover County who was selling “Old South Art” at the event for the fifth year — minus the pandemic, of course. “It’s the biggest show I do every year. It’s always well attended, well promoted, [and] people spend money here. I know several sellers here, and they will tell you the same thing.
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Adams’ art is based on Virginia themes, so it appeals to state and local residents alike.
“Some of my stuff is historic, like a street map of Richmond from the 1860s,” he said. “So if you’re from the area, you’re nostalgic for it and you’re drawn to it.”
There seemed to be something for everyone at the show, as over 100 vendors offered a wide variety of items from the traditional to the exceptional.
In the latter category, Ellen Brooks and her sister, who own Smok’n Hot Brass, offered jewelry embedded in cartridge cases for bullets and shotguns. Certain ends of the case are adorned with precious stones, which must be seen to be appreciated.
“We just incorporate some or all of the bullet casing into our jewelry design,” said Brooks, who resides in North Carolina near Charlotte and has worked on the shows for years. “It’s very unique, very different. Everyone here tries to be unique and different.
The homemade knives that Robert Davis makes also fall into the unique category. They come in different sizes, shapes, and designs, and Davis makes them all from scratch. This includes handles and leather sheaths.
“None of this is prefab,” said Davis, a resident of Columbia, South Carolina, who travels the circuit of arts and crafts exhibits that Gilmore Enterprises produces in the Southeast. “I do everything except quench” knife blades.
“All my knives are guaranteed for life – and unfortunately that’s my life,” he joked.
Shalom – he uses only one name – supports himself by selling colored candles at events like the Craftsmen’s Christmas Classic, an event he has attended for 28 years.
“That’s how I make a living,” he says. “Every year is different. It’s a good show; I sell more or less, but you never know. Lots of people come. »
Among the crowd of people drawn to the event was Brenda Absher, who traveled with her adult daughter from Buckingham County to see what this year’s show had to offer.
“It’s been really hectic today because I guess after COVID it’s a great day, and people want to go out,” said Absher, who was shopping for Christmas presents, among other things. “I liked coming to see the artists and what they can do. We really enjoyed looking at the jewelry.
Rhonda Berlin traveled alone from Portsmouth to enjoy the day and shop.
“I’m actually waiting for the paint to dry on a house sign I bought,” Berlin said as she stood at the side of a busy driveway; she also bought earrings and pastries. “I’m selfish today,” she said with a smile.
Christy Brando and several members of her family came from Petersburg and Montpellier to buy Christmas gifts and personal items. The goods included coasters, a cutting board and “some small purses for the grandchildren”.
“We used to go [to the show] before and took off a few years,” Brandon said. “And now we’re back.”