Local artisans sell their wares


Don Bunch hangs wood carvings from his company Wooden Wonders.

The Mom’s Weekend Spring Arts and Crafts Fair is welcoming back nearly 100 vendors to Beasley Coliseum for the 30th year.

Vendors from across the Pacific Northwest and various craft disciplines will be featured in this weekend’s event.

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“Vendors bring all sorts of handcrafted, high quality items that are a full range of things,” said fair promoter Linda Gallagher. “One of our hot ticket items in the past few years is handmade lotions and skin products.”

Linda and her husband, Don Gallagher, coordinated the first spring arts and crafts fair in 1986 as a Camp Fire fundraiser for their daughter, Ginger. The event was held in the basement of a church on College Hill.

“We had about 30 vendors because that’s all we could fit,” Linda said. “It was elbow to elbow.”

Since then, the fair has moved to Beasley Coliseum and Linda is expecting 20,000 attendees this year.

Many vendors are regulars and return year after year. However, about 25 percent of each year’s vendors are brand new.

“We try to keep things rotating a bit,” Linda said. “We’re always eager to get new folks in here and new crafts to look at.”

Phebe Akesson is one of the new vendors. She is a former Los Angeles model who returned to her rural roots on a Palouse farm. Her four-generation family farm in Steptoe grows wheat, garbanzo beans, mustard and potatoes.

Akesson owns her own business raising Nigerian Dwarf goats and making cold press soap from the goat milk.

“A lot of people don’t use milk in their soaps because it’s harder to make,” Akesson said.

There are benefits to goat milk-based soap in comparison to water-based. The goat milk is creamier and its high concentration of vitamins and minerals repair damaged skin.

In addition to caring for goats, Akesson also acquired honeybees last year. She infuses the honey, among other ingredients, into her soaps.

“I add a lot of things like pink Himalayan salts, local lavender, rose petals I’ve collected and homegrown mint leaves,” Akesson said.

In addition to soap, Akesson will be selling bags of wheat and garbanzo beans, as well as wood-framed photos of the Butte Valley farm.

“It’s sort of a day in the life of our farm,” she said.

Karen Vick, owner of My Favorite Things, is another first-time vendor at the fair. She will travel from Whitefish, Montana, to sell oxidized brass jewelry. The collection includes necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings featuring colorful stones, glass and crystals.

Oxidizing the brass with a chemical solution, vinegar or salt water creates a rustic, warm look, Vick said.

“Living in a place like Whitefish, Montana, I felt like I need to make something people would love here,” Vick said. “That’s why I started the rustic, earthy style and use a lot of butterflies and birds in the designs.”

She has added new lines to her collection and incorporated other mediums, such as leather cords, real leaves and fibers into her designs.

“One of the top-selling items is the various jewelry booths,” Linda said. “Moms and daughters like them. Sometimes sons want to buy their girlfriends something.”

This weekend’s craft fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in Beasley Coliseum. Entry into the fair is free.