Those looking for unique holiday gifts will be able to get their fix Dec. 3-5 when the Ohio Expo Center opens its doors to an annual holiday tradition.
The Winterfair, which will celebrate its 45th anniversary this year, is a market welcoming 375 artists from across the country to display and sell their creations, including photography, paintings, ceramics, leather and glass, Kim Nagorski, executive director of Ohio Designer Craftsmen, said. Nagorski said attending Winterfair each year is a holiday tradition for many shoppers.
“A lot of shoppers come back every year to find that specific artist; that might be the only place they’re going to see them,” Nagorski said. “Some of our artists have dedicated customers that will come to Winterfair for them, but it’s also just a fun way to start your holiday season.”
Winterfair is presented by Ohio Designer Craftsmen, an artist membership organization with the goal of promoting and supporting artists, Nagorski said. She said the organization gives artists opportunities to connect with shoppers face to face.
“All of the artists are very welcoming and they want to talk to you,” Nagorski said. “So it is nice to come in and be able to talk to the artists and get a feel for what they’re doing, and then even realize why the prices are where they’re at too, you know, how much work is involved.”
In addition to the holiday artists’ market, Winterfair also features the Gourmet Marketplace, which offers items like soaps, lotions, salsas, chocolates and olive oil to shoppers, Nagorski said. She said the marketplace provides shoppers with the opportunity to buy handmade goods and homemade foods from artisans, rather than getting them from the grocery store.
Winterfair aims to be accessible to everyone, with unique items available at every price point, Evangelia Philippidis, a local scratchboard artist and educator at the Columbus College of Art & Design who has been exhibiting her art at Winterfair since 1999, said.
“You can find some of the best fine art and crafts in the country here,” Philippidis said. “It’s wonderful stuff, it’s well crafted, it’s extremely unique and the prices, you know, within one booth, you can buy something that is a couple thousand dollars or you can buy something that’s $10, and the quality of it is going to be superb.”
Philippidis, who said she will be vending again at this year’s fair, said she feels the people who participate in Winterfair year after year have become like a family.
“For those three days, the public and the artists meet together and exchange what’s been going on in our lives and support each other financially, as well as emotionally,” Philippidis said. “That’s a great feeling because a lot of artists work solely, you know, we work in our studios; we don’t really see that many people throughout the year. And so we kind of look forward to that.”
Mikelle Hickman-Romine, a local artist specializing in beaded jewelry and a vendor at this year’s Winterfair, has been exhibiting and selling her art at Winterfair for 15 years, but said she has been coming to the show since she was young.
“My mom would take me and we would shop from all of these artisans, year after year,” Hickman-Romine said. “I love when people bring their kids, and the kids want to come and touch my jewelry and look at everything. And I’m like, ‘Yes, please,’ because I do think that developing the future generation of artists by capturing their imagination is really important.”
She said the strong relationships she has developed with her local clients is a big part of why she returns to Winterfair each year..
“I’m local, so I have a wonderful relationship with my local clients,” Hickman-Romine said. “I get to kind of meet with them with brand new work every year and kind of reunite and share excitement.”
Winterfair is an opportunity to discover unique, handcrafted goods and interact on a personal level with the people who created them, Hickman-Romine said.
“It’s just an opportunity to be reminded that every object that we interact with on a day-to-day basis was absolutely made by another human being, and this is your chance to speak face to face with people who actually make some of the things that you will interact with in your life,” Hickman-Romine said.
Winterfair will be open to the public Dec. 3 and 4 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $7 on the fair’s website.