MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

November 1, 2012

Church to hold annual arts, crafts event Saturday

— IF YOU GO:

If you go

WHAT: United Methodist Women’s Arts and Crafts Show.

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Fort Gibson United Methodist Church, 502 N. Beauregard Rd.

ETC.: Admission is free. A chili lunch will be sold. Proceeds from lunch and vendors will fund mission projects and local charitable efforts.

By Chesley Oxendine

Times Correspondent

It’s the only place in town someone can have a massage, then buy a giant, wooden grizzly bear in the same place: Fort Gibson’s United Methodist Women will host their annual Arts and Crafts Show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the United Methodist Church, 302 N. Beauregard Rd.

Visitors, at no charge for admission, are invited to browse wares ranging from baskets to baked goods to baby quilts — and of course, massages and wooden sculptures. Guests can also purchase a chili dinner for $HOW MUCH HOW MUCH HOW MUCH.

Organizer and massage therapist Sara Dunlap said the art show usually proves a good opportunity for holiday purchases.

“I like looking at gifts you can find here that you can't find in Walmart,” Dunlap said. “I like the chance to find the unique gift, like things that are handmade or crafted.”

The show evolved into its current incarnation in the last ten years, she said.

“When I first came here 18 years ago, it was just crafts the church made,” Dunlap said. “Now we’ve got a vendor and booth setup, and a lot of people come through.”

Those people include sculptor and Fort Gibson native Ben Sparks, who plans on selling smaller hand sculptures alongside his bigger pieces, such as the aforementioned grizzly bear.

“I’ll have both chainsaw and museum sculptures,” Sparks said. “The museum sculptures have been done by hand, and a lot of them have been displayed at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee.”

He said the vast majority of his sculptures revolve around nature and wildlife.

Last year’s show marked Sparks’ vendor debut — and his experience then brought him back this year.

“I just saw a sign on the side of the road and ended up asking about it,” he said. “I really enjoyed the people. My family ended up joining the church because of the people I met there.”

Dunlap, who plans on bringing her massage chair to the show for potential customers, also enjoyed the camaraderie — especially at the end of the show when she can mingle with the other vendors.

“I always look forward to seeing vendors from previous years,” she said.  “I usually trade with some of the other vendors for some of their wares.”

Dunlap also looked forward to lunch on a potentially cold day.

“We always have a really good meal,” she said. “I always enjoy a good bowl of chili, and November is chili weather.”

Perhaps most of all, however, Dunlap said she anticipated the benefits for everyone involved, and the efforts a projected $1,000 to $2,000 would support.

“This show is a win for everybody. It’s a win for the vendors, who get to sell their wares, it’s a win for the church and it’s a win for the local organizations we choose to support,” Dunlap said. “We’ll divvy up the money at various meetings and spend almost all of it before Christmas giving to places of need.”

For Dunlap, the Arts and Crafts Show remains an important part of Fort Gibson’s community.

“It's positive for everybody in that everybody can get something out of it,” she said. “I think it's a good community time. People come from all of the different churches and the local community, not just our church.”

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