Holiday bazaar draws artisans with engaging goods and stories

2-day event wraps up at county fairgrounds

rboone@theolympian.comDecember 1, 2013 

Nara Lesperance, 4, left, and her sister, Tiani Lesperance, right, ride in a horse-drawn carriage with their mom, Shianne Holman of Lacey, on Saturday at the Holiday Bazaar at the Thurston County Fairgrounds in Lacey. The event featured gifts, food and entertainment.

JANET JENSEN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

What does one do if one is trying to escape the rat race of network TV news?

Raise alpacas and sell their fiber in the form of pet beds, hats, yarn and foot-warmer shoe inserts called Snuggly Toes.

That’s the nontraditional career route taken by Meredith Kuhl of Salem, Ore., one of several vendors at the Thurston County Fairgrounds’ holiday bazaar Saturday, the second and final day of the event.

Vendors such as Kuhl — who was participating in the annual event for the first time — were spread throughout four buildings.

Kuhl, a producer at MSNBC during the late 1990s and early 2000s, decided early in her career that she’d had enough of that life, so she bought an RV and traveled the country for four years, she said Saturday.

She eventually met and fell in love with alpacas, and now is raising 39 of them on land in the Salem area called Springtime Farms.

She says her foot-warmer inserts are warmer and softer than wool.

Another vendor, Elvia San Martin, has been making artistic creations with beads for more than 40 years, she said. She makes beaded roses, poinsettias, pansies and snowflakes, among other items, and has been selling them in the area since 1986, urged to do so by a coworker when she was employed by the state Department of Ecology, San Martin said.

She was first exposed to beads when she was 11 and living in Mexico City. Her mother had a dentist appointment one day, and San Martin tagged along, only to find herself in the waiting room alone. That’s when the dentist came out and showed her how to create art using beads.

She later studied beading with her mother and then moved to the U.S. when she was 13, San Martin said.

The holiday bazaar at the fairgrounds is one of six San Martin regularly attends. She said business was slow, partly because she thinks the economy has improved enough that people can afford to buy items they couldn’t previously afford. Holiday bazaars do better when the economy is slower because people come looking for deals, she said.

San Martin isn’t done just yet. She’ll sell her beaded flowers at the Steamboat Island-area Griffin Fire Department building, which is set to host a holiday bazaar from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 7, and then she’ll be at Komachin Middle School in Lacey from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 14.

Snuggly Toes can be found at snugglytoes.com.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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