EAGLE, Colorado --It's still a week before Thanksgiving, but as the song says, its beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Eagle and Gypsum.
Holiday lights are getting strung downtown and Christmas goodies already crowd the shelves at local stores. And Friday and Saturday, one of the traditional heralds of the season comes to the Eagle River Center at the Eagle County Fairgrounds - the Holiday Artisan and Craft Fair.
The event features dozens of booth with a wide variety of items available. Santa will visit the fair and musical entertainment is offered throughout the day. A wine and beer garden will be open and a special gingerbread house contest is planned. Additional highlights include a bake sale hosted by local senior citizens, a canned food drive sponsored by the Horse Rangers 4-H Club, a Toys for Tots collection and more.
Kim Andree, of Eagle, uses vintage fabric, recycled clothing, fur coats, old quilts- anything she can get her hands on - to make her Santa Claus figures.
The Santas can range in size from inches to feet, vary in cost from about $200 to $1,100, and take anywhere between five and 40 hours to make.
Andree has made Santas in canoes, riding on toy trains, rocking horses and more.
"They sort of come alive," said Andree.
Andree began making her Santas about 10 years ago.
"I began making them as something to give to friends and my way to recycle," said Andree.
But after the encouragement of a friend, Andree began selling her unique Santa pieces. Andree, in turn, encourages people to stop by the event. "Supporting local artists is so important," said Andree.
Tim O'Brien, of Eagle, set up a booth at the first Holiday Artisans and Craft Fair held at the former Eagle County Regional Airport terminal. He's come back for every fair since.
O'Brien usually brings a couple of pieces of his hand-crafted furniture as well as accessories such as bowls, cutting boards and lazy Susans.
"I will bring good gift items and I will also be taking commissions for things that are not there right then," said O'Brien.
O'Brien said this year he will have a larger selection at the fair than years past.
"Because of the economy I have had a lot of extra time. I make use of it by making other stuff and will bring it," said O'Brien.
O'Brien also makes use of extra materials from his furniture business by turning the scraps into the accessories he brings to the holiday fair.
"I put scraps to use so that very little goes into the Dumpster," said O'Brien.
O'Brien spends anywhere from three to six hours making the accessories and the pieces range in price from $30 to $150.
"I encourage everyone to check the holiday fair out because the artists are local, the quality of the art is high and there are unique gifts," said O'Brien. "It is worth a walk through."
For more information about Tim O'Brien's work visit www.westernwood.net.
A couple of years back Gojan Nikolich's wife told him he needed a hobby. So he began carving hiking sticks made from aspen limbs.
The hiking sticks all have faces carved into them - mostly cranky old men with beards. Others have whistles and bear bells attached.
"It gives me an excuse to sit in the garage, turn on the radio and do something," said Nikolich.
Last year Nikolich carved so many sticks he decided to showcase his work at the Holiday Artisans and Craft Fair.
"I did it last year because I had so many around the house I figured I needed to get rid of a few," said Nikolich who sold a lot of sticks last year. "A lot of people like to hike around here," said Nikolich.
The walking sticks, which take him anywhere between one and five hours to make, range in price from $30 to $80. The sticks are also sold at the visitor center in Eagle.
While he was placed on hold during a phone conversation a year ago, Steve Schrier, of Denver, thought up a practical piece of artwork that he has brought to fruition - Straight Up Chess.
Straight Up Chess is a vertical wall mount chess board. The chess board tiles become the back drop to the chess pieces, which are made out of a variety of materials, sitting on narrow acrylic shelves. The chess board is decoratively framed to add a finished touch to the artwork.
"They hang just like art," said Schrier. "You can play chess on them and they are off the table and out of the way."
Schrier also said there are no time clocks in Straight Up Chess.
"As you pass by the Straight Up Chess board, you make your move, mark it with the 'last move' marker and continue on your way. Later, your opponent passes by, makes their move and marks it as 'last move,'" said Schrier.
These fine art chess sets range in price from about $200 to $300 and there are about 30 to 40 material and design options.
For more information visit www.straightupchess.com
What: Presented by The Art Center and designs by Brian Hall
When: Today and Saturday
Details: The Art Bar will present a smorgasbord of recyclable and recycled materials for creative art work. Open for all ages. All children under the age of 6 years must be accompanied by an adult