The Occoquan Craft Show kicked off its 42nd year running with a bang on June 4 and continued through June 5. The show runs twice a year annually, the first weekend in June and the last weekend in September. The Spring Craft Show offers work by both contemporary and country crafters and artisans from Occoquan and from all around the United States.
“There’s a good crowd this year and considerably more vendors," said Pat Thomas, Craft Show Director. "We have 276 vendors this year with a lot of quality stuff and some new vendors. I see a trend that the show is bouncing back as the streets were packed by 11am. I think we’ll get about 8,000-10,000 attendees the first day.”
People are less nervous about the economy, Thomas said. "Vendors said their sales are fine and people are more comfortable to spend this year.”
For Nishi Langhorne, this is her second time attending the show and she is planning on being here again in the fall. She is artist and owner of Magnetism, a hand-crafted jewelry company.
“I was here last fall,” she said. “We did well last time and I’m hoping to do as well or better this time. The weather is supposed to be beautiful which attracts the people. Last time, I didn’t know the system. I didn’t know how to price, how to display, and how to accommodate as many people as possible in the tent.”
This was the third year for Linda Condray, artist and owner of Walking on Broken Glass who sells mosaic, fused and traditional stained glass art. “So far the crowds look good,” said Condray. “My sales usually go in spurts, but we lucked out and have gorgeous weather. I’m very happy with the Occoquan show and I’ve always done well here.”
Larry Rom, salesman for the Jellyfish Man booth is fairly new to the show although the company has sold its wares in Occoquan at both Spring and Fall shows for the last three or four years.
He explained how great it was to see everybody enjoying their product, preserved farm-raised jellyfish encased in resin after having lived their natural lifespan. The jellyfish are bioluminescent so they glow for two to four hours after being exposed to light. “Customers walk up and think it’s amazing. It’s a way to capture Earth’s natural beauty and recycle it into art.”
Katherine Weisinger has been doing her art for about 23 years and attending the Occoquan show for about five years with her company Forest Flower Jewelry. In this time, she has become somewhat of a craft show celebrity as show patrons return year after year to buy new pendants for the necklaces they have already purchased from her.
“People remember me as they make friends with me and they come year after year to add to their collections,” Weisinger said.
Her art begins with real leaves and flowers that are hand-painted and covered in modified laquer to preserve or intensify their colors. She makes the jewelry cards she displays them on by hand out of vintage Valentine’s Day cards. She considers her work “vintage cottage.” Weisinger spends half her year in Ohio and half in Florida, but she misses the human contact of the shows during her downtime.
Happy faces lined the streets of the historic town of Occoquan as customers walked from tent to tent perusing and purchasing the artists’ wares and eating the various culinary delicacies the food vendors were selling. An interesting addition and culinary treat at the show was turkey legs and fried Oreos.
Thomas' goal for the future of the show is to market it enough to fill it up like it used to when the streets were lined with about 350 vendors. Some of the current marketing is done through advertisement to vendors in Crafter Magazine, but most of their vendors hear about the show through word of mouth, Thomas said.
For more information on the Occoquan Craft Fair, visit www.occoquancraftshow.com.