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Dogwood Arts and Crafts Fest’s final day set for noon to 4 p.m. Sunday

April 15, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — Last weekend the Big Sandy Superstore was all about rocking with Styx and REO Speedwagon, this weekend, the Arena is all about the shopping as the Arena transforms into the Tri-State’s largest arts and crafts show, the 46th annual Dogwood Arts and Crafts Fest.

There is one last day to check out the Dogwood Arts and Crafts Fest, which continues noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, and check out about 70 juried vendors from surrounding states. Vendors have a wide variety of handcrafted items such as jewelry, food products, woodwork, art, soaps and lotions, yard art, pottery and more, including many folks who will be doing demonstrations of their unique crafts.

Tickets are available at the box office for $7, $5 seniors and $5 kids ages 3-12.

The first 1,000 customers through the door get a free shopping bag from Sprint.

Whether it is sampling what Pastor Jack Miller swears is “the greatest fudge in the history of the world,” or buying homemade soaps, pottery, yard art or candles, shoppers can be sure they are getting good, hand-crafted quality items, said Huntington resident Carter Taylor Seaton, who is a nationally known author as well as renowned artist.

Seaton, who ran the festival back in 1985 and who spent 15 years as executive director of one of the region’s first arts and crafts co-ops, was asked five years ago to help revive the Dogwood Festival, which was taken offline by the arena in 2014 after the arena’s general manager at that time, Brian Sipe, felt the quality of crafters and the size of the crowds dwindling.

Seaton said the spring revival of Dogwood — back at the arena since 2015 — has been a success with renewed vigor from the arena, the community and the office of Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, who also attended the early days of the Dogwood Festival, which actually took place in tents on the arena grounds as the arena was being completed in the 1977.

Seaton said one thing she makes sure of in the jurying process is that there is a wide variety of Appalachian arts and crafts represented from the vendors who hail from all over Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, as well as some from further afield in Virginia and Indiana.

“It’s a fun event, and there is a lot of variety and a lot of price points of things to purchase,” Seaton said. “It is juried, and it is good quality, but it is not all high-end either. We have been very careful to have a broad range of things, so there is a price for everybody. It is a good time to shop with Mother’s Day, and — for those thinking even farther ahead — Father’s Day.”

Seaton said the show will have a good mix of many favorites such as Paula Bailey’s make your own booth called Swirladelic, Brookstone Soaps and Up The Creek mustard, to 15 new exhibitors such as Thunderbeard, which sells its beard and hair products locally at Razor and Shear.

“Some of the very favorite things are back, like the tie-dyed scarf lady (Bailey and her Swirladelic) and Morgan’s Fudge and Brookstone Soap, so I think we really do have something for everybody, and I love it that we have new people,” Seaton said. “It’s always exciting for people to have new things to check out.”

Seaton, whose latest book, a biography “The Rebel in the Red Jeep: Ken Hechler’s Life in West Virginia Politics,” released by West Virginia University Press, was a finalist in the nonfiction category for the prestigious Weatherford Award, will be one of the regional authors doing a book signing at the Dogwood Fest.

Other authors are Marie Manilla, Suzanne Alexander, Pamela Marie Thompson, Michael Connick, Lisa Rickert, Ruth Swanson and John Hash. Seaton also will have a few of Eliot Parker’s books, but he can’t be there.

Jennifer Sturgeon, entertainment manager for the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, said events like the Dogwood Arts and Crafts Festival are important to the area to bring in different crowds than would go to some of the concerts and to celebrate the region’s rich tapestry of unique makers.

“It’s nice to take a break from the regular schedule of events and concerts and to give back to the community by bringing in so many talented artists and crafters who are bringing in local products,” Sturgeon said. “This is the fourth year since the reboot, and the vendors who come really like it. We have some vendors who did Dogwood 30 years ago, and it is kind of fun to see them come back and want to be a part of it. We are also able to cycle through some vendors so we don’t have all of the same people every year, which is nice.”

Sturgeon said Landscaping by Hillcrest, which is known for its mega lobby display at the annual WSAZ Home and Garden Show, will have a Blossom Park to walk through inside the festival, which is about two weeks early this year.

Seaton said they moved the date up as to not conflict with Marshall’s Green and White Game which was the same weekend as Dogwood Fest last year.

“We are happy with the show itself, and I wish we could do something to drag every single person in the Tri-State there,” Seaton said. “We would love to have higher attendance. We have tinkered with the days and with the times. It is earlier this year, and it doesn’t conflict with anything like Marshall Alumni weekend, and we have tried to make it have more convenient hours, and not too long for the vendors but plenty of time for people who want to come.”

Go online at www.bigsandyarena.com for more info.