Senior Staff Writer
Christmasville, the annual craft fair benefiting the American Red Cross, opens Saturday at Marshall County High School.
"This is the sixth year," Red Cross Executive Director Joe Barocio said. "Most of the vendors we've had in the previous five years are coming back."
The craft show was called Christmas Village, but the name was changed late in the planning for the event last year.
"Last year, we got a nasty letter from a lawyer saying Christmas Village was a registered name," Barocio said. "We changed it to Christmasville. They never bothered us before, but last year we had an ad in a community newspaper in Nashville."
Barocio goes to Marshall County home fires, knowing people's lives are disrupted.
"We've had a fairly quiet season this year with regard to fires," he said. "Last year, we had floods and a few people were affected in Marshall County. We got donations from Nashville and other places and ended up giving out $36,000 to help people."
That emergency service is an American Red Cross hallmark. It frequently depletes the organization's budget and that's the case this winter.
As a result, the success of this year's Christmasville is more important.
"It's got a history," Anna Childress, chairman of the Red Cross event, said. "People start calling me in the summer about getting booth space."
"We've had as many as 55 booths," Childress said, estimating the number at about 25-30 on Tuesday. "Now that we're at the high school, we can expand further."
In 2006, Red Cross leaders revived what had been Christmas Village here, she said. It had been conducted during the 1990s, but fell by the wayside.
"We were at the armory for three years," Childress said. "We outgrew that and went to the Powder Room. We couldn't get the Powder Room the fourth year, so we went to the high school."
Unlike other pre-Christmas craft shows in high school halls, Christmasville has no entry fee. Red Cross revenue comes from renting space for artisans and craftsmen.
"This is my first year to participate," said Sara Miller, a basket weaver with specialty baskets good for collecting eggs and baskets for other purposes.
Miller is a member of the Tennessee Basketry Association and the High Country Basketry Guild in Virginia. She's the daughter of well-known Marshall County artisan Robert Mason who taught math at Chapel Hill and was a MCHS guidance counselor.
Sue Wilson has been participating in the Red Cross craft fair for six years. Her daughter, Rene Estes makes jewelry. She makes fried pies. They will personalize glassware and plates. If people want a particular plate personalized during the fair, then they should bring the glass or plate with them.
"We'll have a lot of neat stuff" at the craft show, Childress said.
The annual event is also a social occasion for friends and family to stroll school halls, meet, greet and compare gifts purchased for loved ones next month.