GLEN ARBOR — For many people, nothing marks the start of the holiday season like a craft show and bazaar.
Two that have been going for more than 20 years will be held this weekend in Glen Arbor and Empire.
The Glen Arbor Holiday Marketplace starts on Friday with a pre-sale from 6-8:30 p.m. after caroling and the traditional lighting of the tree. It takes place at the Glen Arbor Town Hall, with the sale continuing on Saturday from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The event includes a luncheon and a visit from Santa.
Last year more than 1,700 people came through the doors, with 400 of them on Friday evening, said Patricia Widmayer, chairwoman of the event.
“There are lots of options and I think that’s what draws them,” Widmayer said. “It’s not just more of the same.”
Local artisans have gathered in Empire for countless years and in 2008 the event became officially known as the Empire Artisan Marketplace, said coordinator Linda Payment. It is being held from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the Empire Township Hall.
Eighteen vendors are signed up for the event — a “full house,” Payment said.
“I’m excited,” she said. “This is more than we’ve had in the last couple years.”
Shopping at the Empire event supports local artisans, but also kicks off the holiday season, Payment said.
All of the items being sold are handcrafted, Payment said, with this year’s market featuring leather goods, Native American quill items, photography, fiber art, maps and, of course, Christmas items. There are also refreshments, she said.
Proceeds from space rental go to support the Empire Area Community Center, which sponsors an emergency fund to help people with expenses such as medical, housing or utility bills.
In Glen Arbor there are about 30 artisan vendors, with four or five of them new this year, said Widmayer, who is in her fourth year as chair.
This is Larry Dunlop’s first foray into the Glen Arbor market. A retired building contractor, Dunlop makes bowls that are hand-turned on a wood lathe.
“All of my wood is from tree service people, so it’s all recycled, repurposed wood,” said Dunlop, of Traverse City.
Working with wood is second nature to Dunlop. His bowls are beautiful, but they’re not just for display.
“Ninety percent of what I make is supposed to be used,” he said.
Also at the craft show are four jewelers, baked goods from Red Gate Farm in Maple City and the return of well-known artist Dennis Garathy and his hand-painted vintage signs.
Shelley Matuzak of Shelley’s House of Sewing in Maple City makes and sells fleece hats, mittens, scarves and socks. She also recycles blue jeans into purses and mittens, using denim that has embroidery or unique colors.
Matuzak has been a seamstress for nearly 40 years and has been doing fall craft shows for about 15 years.
“I like to create stuff,” Matuzak said. “I just love that people love my items.”
The Glen Arbor bazaar has a lot of unique items, Widmayer said.
“Over time we’ve really brought together a great mix,” Widmayer said. “We try not to duplicate things so that you can find a real variety, from candles to pottery to jewelry to tiles.”
The event is sponsored by the Glen Lake Chamber of Commerce. Space rental proceeds will pay for the event and support the chamber.