See It, Feel It

See It, Feel It

Clothesline Fair offers hands-on shopping


“Even though crafts have taken a hit due to online sales, shows such as Prairie Grove offer a lively atmosphere that can’t be re-created on a computer screen,” says toymaker Marc Falmer. He’s been showing and selling his work at the Labor Day weekend Clothesline Fair for eight years now and says “people not only want to see and feel their purchases first hand, they also want an experience that only a show like this can provide.

“Craft shows also are an integral part to many family traditions,” the Springfield, Mo., artisan says. “Year after year, parents bring their children for an experience that lasts a lifetime. We see many multigenerational families — grandparents, parents, children — returning to the Clothesline Fair, enjoying the day together.”

The Prairie Grove Clothesline Fair turns 67 this year with some 250 booths on exhibit, and festival director Eve Smith says it’s the caliber of the crafts that brings people back.

“We look for a quality of product that is handmade and has their personality in it,” says Smith, who is also director of exhibition and public programs for the fair sponsor, the Arts Center of the Ozarks. “The vendor has to make a 100 percent of their product.

“I’ve been the fair director for about nine years now and love the fact that most of the vendors have been coming out this fair for over 20 years,” she adds. “Their products are about heritage and keeping a dying craft alive.”

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing new under the sun. Erin Goodwin is a first-time participant this year.

“I can customize just about anything,” she says. “From cups, to shirts, to hair bows and signs … and just about anything in between! I actually kind of fell into it by accident. I got the supplies to originally make earrings, but realized I could do so much more.”

She chose this festival for her public debut, she says, because “I am a native of Northwest Arkansas and have known of the Clothesline Fair since I was a kid. I know this is a very well attended craft fair, and I appreciate the thought that goes into who is accepted. That keeps the ‘craft’ in craft fair.”

Like Falmer, Goodwin believes “time and personalization” give crafts a place in the “order it online” world.

“I have always tried to put a lot of thought into gifts that I give,” she says. “And I have always appreciated the thought put into gifts given to me. I truly believe it’s the thought that counts.”

It was that concept that led Falmer to crafting in the first place.

“One winter’s day I had an idea to create a friend of mine a Christmas gift — since I was too poor to buy anything of value,” he remembers. “I gathered a couple pieces of wood and made a basketball goal that one could hang on a wall and play inside. Friends and family stated I had some talent, so shortly thereafter my wife and I decided to sell toys at a local craft show. Our first show was 12 years ago, and it all started with a Christmas gift!”



Prairie Grove

Clothesline Fair

WHEN — 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 1-2; 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 3

WHERE — Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park west of Fayetteville on U.S. 62

COST — Admission is free; there is a charge to park on the grounds

INFO — 751-5441

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