A group of witches surrounded a man in the middle of the street, cackling among themselves and gathering the attention of surrounding witnesses. This would have been a strange occurrence on any other day; however, these witches had just participated in a costume parade at the Claremont Chamber’s 36th Annual Village Venture Arts and Crafts Faire in Claremont Village Saturday afternoon.
Featuring more than 450 booths displaying unique art and original crafts, businesses, entertainment and food, the Village Venture Arts and Crafts Faire was packed with visitors.
“I didn’t realize that it was so huge and that there were so many booths; there’s so many different things you can see,” Claremont resident Yolanda Gutierrez said. “The crafts are incredible; people could think of ideas and put things together that nobody would expect.”
Booths lined the streets, displaying their wares for visitors to buy. From candles to paintings, leather goods and skin care products, the Village Venture hosts a grand collection of artists and craftspeople in one place.
Anthe Wosczyna is a self-taught jewelry maker that has been part of the Village Venture for six years. Her business, Little Muse Designs, sells beaded jewelry with patterns similar to mandala designs.
“Today I met up with some old friends and connected them to my other friends that were vendors here,” Wosczyna said. “That’s what I enjoy about the fair too, because it’s not just showing my art and it’s not monetary gain; it’s also connecting with the people in the art community and friends in the area.”
Businesses also come to the Village Venture to advertise their services and products. Revolution Salon, which opened in March, had a clown handing red balloons to children passing by their booth in the style of Pennywise the clown from Stephen King’s novel “It.” The gimmick gained the attention of many passersby, occasionally attracting a customer to try out the salon’s styling services.
This was the first year Steven Solis, the owner of Revolution Salon, has been to the Arts and Crafts Faire.
“The first thing I thought of was ‘Wow, there’s a lot of people here.’ But we had a good turnout and we were able to raise a lot of money for charity,” Solis said.
Solis was selling raffle tickets to win hair products and coupons for hair services. The proceeds went to House of Ruth, a shelter that helps women who are victims of domestic violence.
Rising Women was another business that contributed to a good cause.
The proceeds from each jar of jam or marmalade sold went to Crossroads, a residential rehabilitation program for women who were released from prison on parole after serving life sentences.
The jam and marmalade sold by Rising Women were made by women from the Crossroads program, and each jar has a tag with a woman’s picture and story about life in prison.
“Here at Rising Women, it’s not about selling these products; it’s about being able to talk to others about this program and how wonderful the Claremont community has been in helping our graduates get jobs,” Crossroads board president Marilyn Bidwell said.
The Village Venture dedicated a whole block to food vendors. From Indonesian satay, Korean BBQ, Brazilian BBQ and tacos, customers had a wide selection of meals to choose from. There were also sweets and treats available to cool off on the 90 degree day.
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade has been serving customers at the Village Venture for 20 years. For $4 a cup, workers squeeze the lemons and mix the juice with sugar and water right in front of you.
“People like seeing that we squeeze it and shake it in front of them,” owner Craig Elderson said. “It doesn’t sit in a tub all day, and it doesn’t come from a can. You can actually see it being made. People come and they say that they come back every year for our lemonade.”
Even the paramedics participated in the Village Venture with their own makeshift booth. This is the first time they opened their ambulance to the public at the Village, allowing people to take pictures and examine the equipment inside.
“We’re usually locked away in an ambulance all day running calls, so it’s refreshing to be here and see kids enjoying and having fun,” emergency medical technician Chase Morris said.
Every year, the Village Venture holds a pumpkin carving contest and a children’s costume parade in addition to the booths. This year, the event opened its first beer and wine garden, selling for $5 a glass.
Mulan Novilla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.