If you can think of it, you’ll probably find it.
And if you haven’t thought of it, you’ll probably find it anyway.
That perfect gift is somewhere at the Quad-City Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair, with more than 190 exhibitors. The annual event celebrates its 25th year Friday-Sunday, Nov. 28-30, at the QCCA Expo Center, 2621 4th Ave., Rock Island.
Organizer Chris Beaty of Canton, Ill., says more than 190 exhibitors, about 50 of whom will demonstrate their crafts, are participating this year. The thousands of items on display will include handcrafted teddy bears, carved/painted gourds, old-fashioned wooden toys, ceramics, jewelry, dolls, doll clothes, doll furniture, soaps, stained glass, oil paintings, greeting cards, quilting, chainsaw art, clothes for people of all ages, bird feeders, lathe art, etchings, primitives, pottery, paintings, stoneware and more.
“You can go buy someone a mass-produced gift made in China from a big box store or you can buy a handcrafted gift your loved ones will treasure for years to come,” Beaty said. “Those types of gifts become treasures.”
Beaty’s parents, John and Peggy Conrad of Canton, Ill., started the craft fair 25 years ago. Beaty and her husband, Bob Beaty, took the reins a few years back.
The event’s history and success have come about because “We have maintained the handcrafted philosophy,” Beaty said. About 10,000 people typically come through the doors during its three-day run.
Chris Beaty is the juror for the show. “When it comes right down to it, I make the final decision on whether the exhibitor is going to qualify,” she said.
Artisans who create handcrafted items “are getting harder and harder to find,” she said. “I think a lot of it is the difference in the generations. This generation we have now, they have to work so many hours a week just to take care of their family that it’s hard for them to take on a hobby. … and then attend events where they can sell it.
“Years ago, ‘handcrafted’ exhibitors were everywhere,” she said. “They are getting harder to find.”
Exhibitors come from all over the Midwest for this show, Beaty said. “We have a few that ‘run the circuit,’ ” she added, meaning that they make the rounds of different parts of the country at various times of the year.
She said attendance has changed a bit in the past couple of years: “I have seen the younger generation, in the 20-to-35 age bracket, showing up more,” she said. “They’re finding that although the cellphones and the computers and the laptops and the tablets are all great to have, it’s kind of nice to be able to go somewhere and buy something for a family member or friend that is totally unique to anything else they’re going to find.”
Ideas for the items at the show “come from the farm to the city,” she said. “There’s stuff there that you can buy for a child in age as well as a child at heart.
“You can walk into this event with almost 200 exhibitors, and if you can’t find something for that special person, they’ve got everything,” she said.