Betsey Mills craft show continues to bring community together
With crisp cool weather and a desire to chase down those special Christmas presents, shoppers, filled the Betsey Mills Gymnasium on Saturday for the annual Christmas Village Craft and Gift Show.
Always held the first Saturday in December, the event has become a long-standing area Christmas shopping tradition.
With 38 vendors, there was a large variety of items offered. Items ranging from wooden cutting boards, fabric items, glass, jewelry, candles, Christmas decorations, food and more filled the entire gym, balcony above and even outside of the gym entrance. A concession table was also set up so shoppers didn’t get hungry.
“Even though I’m new, I feel very blessed to be part of this organization,” said Betsey Mills Executive Director Kerry Jean Weddle, who started in October. “This is a wonderful organization and it has a lot of volunteers and people that rally around the Betsey Mills to keep it going.”
Weddle said they are community minded and fundraising such as the Christmas Village event help continue what they’re doing.
“This is our annual and biggest fundraiser,” said Theresa Morrison, Betsey Counsel President. “We’re the money makers to help with the upkeep of the organization.”
Morrison’s mother, Louise Gwinn, is a long-time volunteer and knows the Betsey’s value.
“My daughter took ballet lessons here and my kids took swimming lessons,” said Gwinn. “They also went to dances here.”
Gwinn has always been interested in the Betsey Mills saying that it is a one of a kind, unique non-profit organization.
Generations of families have enjoyed the benefits and built fond memories at the Betsey Mills Club and it’s still going strong.
“When I was a kid, our Girl Scout sleepovers were here,” said Franci Bolden, Committee Chairperson for the craft show. “We’d swim in the pool in wear ourselves out and sleep in the gym in our sleeping bags. That was my fond childhood memory of being here.”
Bolden said the craft show is a nice way to bring the community together and raise money for the Betsey Mills to support their goals. They want those fond kind of memories continuing.
Approaching 100 years, the Betsey Mill Club offers daycare, preschool, swimming pool programs, and classes such as ballroom dancing, dog obedience and pickle ball.
The Betsey also offers outreach to the community. They have the Betsey’s Closet (free women’s professional clothing) and also rent 13 dorm rooms to women at reasonable rates.
One long-time craft show vendor has become know as the “Tie Lady.”
Marijean Stockwell, a Gihon Elementary School music teacher, has made thousand of neckties over the years. Some are sports or music related or cartoons. She even takes requests.
“My eighth grade Home Economics teacher helped me make my first tie,” said Stockwell. “I wanted to make a tie for my Dad with left over fabric and she helped me. I’m still making them.”
Rose Cossett, of Wingett Run, has a company called The Gypsy-N-Me and has been making necklaces, bracelets, earrings and other jewelry for five years, Cossett often uses copper wire and semi-precious stones along with many other techniques.
“I enjoy doing this,” said Cossett. “It’s kind of like therapy for me. I try to come up with new designs every year.”
Truda Mendenhall, of TJM Paints, has been painting for 50 years. In recent years, she has been hand painting glass Christmas tree ornaments. Mendenhall says that painting is relaxing for her.
Betsy Dunn and her husband, Gary Dunn, of Vienna, were enjoying the craft show.
“This is a wonderful experience here,” said Gary. “This event has anything you would want to look at.”
“I love this craft show,” added Betsy. “They are very organized and have great craftsmen and vendors. We’re having a good time shopping.”
Michelle Lambeth and her mother, Becky Strickler, both of Marietta, typically come the craft show to see what is offered.
“It’s nice to get out together,” said Strickler. “There’s a lot of really good talent here.”