holiday fair bonnie meiers

Bonnie Meier adds a local flair to vendor shows with items from her business Jubon Juweelen in Orange City.

In most of our minds, fairs conjure up images of warm summer days, seeing old friends and just having a good time. But why wait until that season of summer fairs to partake in the happiness a fair brings?

Many towns are hosting vendor fairs at this time of the year. They are reminiscent of ancient fairs which have been going on since commerce began.

Anyone who had knack for baking or working with textiles, metal, wood, glass, growing garden produce or livestock had a booth on these fair days. Some might have been held weekly.

Fairs provided a place for people to gather to celebrate their communities, to meet their neighbors, newcomers and visitors to their towns, and to find a useful or decorative item.

The fairs were an important part of a town’s social and business life.

The social aspect is still very apparent. It is possible that after the phrase, “How are you?,” the next most common phrase is, “Oh … it is so good to see you again.”

These vendor fairs are still a great opportunity to showcase items made by skillful hands and to make available for sale to a person who has need of it. They are a great place to learn just what some of the area dwellers are doing in their spare time.

Take for instance Nick and Marlena Fanning from Hudson, S.D. They are relatively newcomers to having a home-based business. M+N Custom Creations was begun last May.

This husband and wife team focus on creating custom wood designed items. Nothing is more exciting than finding a one-of-a-kind item to give to a friend or have on display in my own home.

Their business was started to give Marlena the opportunity to work from home, so that she could spend more time with their children. In my mind, that is a good reason for a home-based business.

Elaine Wassink from Hull, Iowa is supposed to be retired. But she can’t stand being idle or seeing things go to waste. She offers a potpourri of items from jam flavors which aren’t usually found in stores.

Elaine smiles when she talks about the Mulberry trees in her back yard. “God must have created them for more than the birds’ use; because over 30 years ago I developed a recipe for mulberry rhubarb syrup that is a favorite amongst customers.”  

A few years ago I purchased a handy bag from their business named Yardage Fabric & Food at a vendor fair. It goes with me many places, but is even more special because I know her daughter Jackie created and designed it. Elaine did the sewing. A very talented mother and daughter duo.

Also from Hull, Christiana Westra had a most beautiful display. She specializes in wood flowers. Yes, you read that right. Now that was a new concept to me. I really thought the flowers were real in her displays.

She calls her home-based business C Anna’s Things. There her three children are learning responsibility and business skills as they help in the creative process and at vendor fairs.

Christiana loves helping bring people’s dreams to life as she hand paints the flowers used in her creations. She also custom designs long-lasting bouquets for weddings and gifts.

These few examples are just a very limited show of the talent one will see at a vendor show. Every town has its own unique flair with master craftsmen which makes it a delight to visit.

Many of these vendors will not only acknowledge that their skillful work is a gift from God, but also the enjoyment they derive from their work.

Ecclesiastes 3:12b-13 reads, “but for man to rejoice and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is a gift of God.”

Renae B. Vander Schaaf is an independent writer, author and speaker. Please contact her at 605-530-0017 or

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