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Makers fair makes a splash

Central Point organizers expect 120 artisans Saturday for Made in Southern Oregon event

CENTRAL POINT — This year’s Made in Southern Oregon makers fair — a street fair highlighting local makers from metal workers and soap crafters to woodworkers and flower peddlers — will easily be the biggest since its inception in 2019.

Having weathered at least one smoky summer and two years of pandemic restrictions, the event quickly sold out all of its vendor spaces, with a waiting list of eager participants.

Boasting expanded hours and more vendor offerings, this year’s event is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, with 120 food, craft and other vendor booths lined up along Pine Street from First to Sixth streets.

Nikki Petersen, Central Point recreation manager, said with cancellation of Medford’s long-running Art in Bloom, the Made in Southern Oregon event is even more needed — and more anticipated — this year.

Art in Bloom was previously held Mother’s Day weekend. Its cancellation prompted Central Point to move its mid-May event up to the premium time slot, Petersen said, ensuring local families had something fun to do.

With more than double the number of vendors signed up from last year, and more wanting to join, Petersen said the event would offer plenty of fun.

“We have 120 vendors, and there are more calling us every day. We were at 60 to 80 the first few years. And this year, even with 120 signed up, we have at least 30 more people on a waiting list,” Petersen said.

“Since Art in Bloom is no more, we have even more interest. A lot of people are saying, ‘Are you the new Art in Bloom?’ Nope. We’ve always had our event the weekend after Mother’s Day so we didn’t overlap,” she said. “We just moved up this year because we knew Art in Bloom was a mainstay for people on Mother’s Day weekend.”

The focus of the Central Point fair, Petersen noted, is to keep things local.

“The whole backstory of Made in Southern Oregon is about that emphasis on local makers. The only vendors we want to have are those in Southern Oregon, from the border of Eugene and up and over to the coast and Klamath Falls,” she said.

Resellers and out-of-towners are great, Petersen said, but the Made in Southern Oregon event is a place to celebrate the region.

“We have flower farmers from right down the road, farmers that pasture and grow their own animals here, woodworkers and metal makers and macrame folks, people who sew, face painters,” she added.

“Literally, our goal is to discover your neighbors — makers that are next door to you. The lady you go to church with or the man who bags your groceries, who you maybe see every day but have no idea the great things they create.”

An event stage, which will be planted squarely in the middle of downtown Pine Street, will feature an array of local performers — from Miss Diana’s School of Dance to Rogue Music students and a local belly dancing group.

A food court area, sponsored by Crater Café and The Jackelope Shoppe, will feature a dozen food vendors. For non-shoppers, detours will be marked (use Oak and Manzanita streets).

Petersen hopes the event will be a nice way for families to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend.

“The biggest difference is that we’re one day only. Shutting down Pine Street is a pretty big undertaking already, and two days would be a lot for our citizens,” Petersen said.

“We can’t do two days, but we have expanded our event to go for longer in the day, we have a huge food court, and entertainment all day. We’ve never set up a big stage in the middle of Pine Street, so this’ll be the first for us. We’re looking forward to this being a really great year.”

More information

For event details, see centralpointoregon.gov/parksrec/page/made-southern-oregon-spring-edition

For vendor and waiting list info, email Petersen at nikki.petersen@centralpointoregon.gov

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.