The Douglas County Christmas Craft Fair opened Friday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds — marking the 45th year of an event billed by organizers as the largest and most popular Christmas fair in Southern Oregon.

This year’s fair, located in the Conference Hall, Douglas Hall and the Exhibit Building, has more than 300 vendors selling a wide variety of handcrafted items.

Goods this year range from metal sculptures, leatherwork, art, clothing, baked goods, wood crafts and other unique products. Fairgrounds Marketing Director Brenda Mayberry said there was a big demand for booths this year.

“We still had people calling even the day before it started, trying to get in,” Mayberry said. “We have a waiting list, and the people that didn’t get in this year then move up the waiting list for next year.”

Most exhibitors come from Douglas County, but there are several from around the state, and even some from Washington and California.

Ronnie Gobel of Roseburg has had a tole painting booth at the fair for the past 20 years, selling custom Christmas ornaments and decorative paintings. It’s still just a hobby for her, but she says she can’t stop.

“It’s the customers,” she said. “And the fairgrounds makes sure everybody has brought in homemade stuff — it’s not store-bought stuff. And when they do those free nights from 5 to 8 to get in free, that’s the best thing they’ve ever done, because it brings in a lot of people.”

Kristi Moore of Tillamook makes natural skin care products, and has been bringing her products to the Douglas County Christmas Fair for about 17 years. She has cut down to three fairs each year from the eight she used to do, but she made sure she kept the Douglas County event on her schedule.

“I make all of my products and this is an all handmade show, so I started coming here for that reason,” Moore said. “It’s reasonably priced and draws a lot of people. It’s a good fair.”

Jinalyn Sherrard of Roseburg has a booth for the first time for her new business, Heeler House Custom Leather. She began making leather creations when her husband Wayne Sherrard bought her a leather sewing machine. So she decided she would bring her new business to the Christmas Fair to see if people would be interested in the products.

Jinalyn Sherrard finally decided to have a booth at the fair after she was encouraged by several people. Just a short time after opening on Friday, she had already made several sales.

“A good start — we sold several pillows and a purse in the first few hours,” Sherrard said. “We hope to build on this, and kind of see which designs people are interested in and go from there.”

Mayberry said the fairgrounds’ goal is to get a lot of community involvement from different organizations, like the Salvation Army, CASA, the Phoenix School, Boys Scouts and other local groups.

There is continuous entertainment scheduled throughout the fair, with a violin soloist, an accordion club, the Umpqua Valley Youth Orchestra, some singing groups, and several other music acts.

About 12,000 visitors are expected to work at the three-day event.

Santa will make two appearances Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and one appearance on Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

There is a pajama drive with Cascade Community Credit Union and Casa on Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m. If you bring in a new pair of kid-size pajamas, you get in for free. All the pajamas that are donated will go to kids in foster care.

Visitors can get $1 off of admission with a donation of canned food, which will be given to the Salvation Army Food Pantry.

“If you’re looking for something for somebody that’s hard to buy for, this is the place to go,” Mayberry said. “It’s not something that you’re going to find in the stores.”

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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