Santa’s Art Shop to ring in holiday season

Santa’s Art Shop to ring in holiday seasonPictured: The holiday gifts and traditions on display at Santa’s Art Shop offer a feast for the senses. Thousands of shoppers visit the Desert Empire Fairgrounds each year for the holiday fair. — Photo by Laura Austin

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By CHRISTINA MACGREGOR

News Review Correspondent

Beautiful strains of Christmas carols are heard as you walk through the tall gate of the Desert Empire Fairgrounds, entering the world of Santa’s Art Shop on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2-3.

A delectable aroma of savory and sweet goods wafts through the air. Smiles are abundant as thousands of shoppers, with Christmas gift lists in hand, are greeted by a vast array of beautiful, handcrafted wares.

“There is so much to take in — make sure you plan to stay a while,” said Santa’s Art Shop Director Pat Farris. “Lunch will be a special treat as you are tempted by the tantalizing aromas and excellent selections of food on the midway.”

Last year’s fair attracted more than 6,000 people. “We are expecting an even greater turnout this year.”

Santa’s Art Shop is a local tradition, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. “Our team has adopted the slogan ‘Christmas starts here,’ since the craft fair brings holiday shopping right to our doorstep,” said Farris.

“We have such limited shopping opportunities in our remote community, this is a great way to get an early start buying gifts. The items offered here cannot be found anywhere else.”

This year’s fair will have more than 150 vendors from all over the country.

The main attraction of the fair is that vendors sell exclusively handmade items. “Because these artisans love their crafts, they sell their wares at exceptional prices you can appreciate.”

In the needlework department, girls’ dresses bedecked in ruffles and lace can be found for about a third of the price you would expect to pay in a boutique.

Among the gift options are stocking stuffers, original paintings, costume jewelry, fine jewelry, woven baskets, hand-carved wooden toys and utensils, ironwork and more.

Farris thinks it is the spirit of the Ridgecrest community that keeps bringing vendors back.

“People love coming here, and they talk about how friendly and how courteous the people of Ridgecrest are, compared to some of the other communities that they go to. They really enjoy the community — they think it’s exceptional. Some of them have even told me that because they are so successful in this fair, they have canceled the other fairs, and this is the only one that they do now.”

Vendors even comment on the good food and service offered at local restaurants. “They always feel so welcomed.”

Because this event has happened for so many years with some of the same vendors, each year becomes something of a reunion of old friends, adding to the warm and loving atmosphere.

“It’s kind of fun to watch people hugging each other who haven’t seen each other since last year,” said Farris. “It’s so nice to see that aspect of the community — this event is a place where community spirit really thrives.”

There will also be places where you can donate toys for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. Donations are accepted for youngsters up to the age of 14.

A car show on Saturday will also take place on Saturday.

Admission to Santa’s Art shop is $1 for those age 12 and older, and free for those younger than 12. Parking is free.

Story First Published: 2017-11-22