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Craft Fair A Success For St. John Group

It wasn’t the Palouse prune bread talking.

It was the buzz of being at a happening.

“I got all medicated up, just so I could come,” said an elderly woman standing beneath the fluorescent lights in the crowded St. John Community Building Saturday.

The event was an arts and crafts fair. You know, handmade bird feeders, metal pie pans nail-punched to say “Welcome Friends,” and practically anything you can imagine being crocheted, carved, embroidered or whatevered.

But it was really more than that. It was an affirmation of an idea.

A 10-member Whitman County women’s club had wanted to raise money for the scholarship fund at St. John-Endicott High School. So, months ago, the group decided to put on a crafts fair and charge vendors for table space. “Show and Sell” is the name they came up with.

A few people, including one or two of the club members’ husbands, shook their heads. A thing like that might work in a bigger place, say, Colfax. But in St. John? So on Saturday, women’s club president Pat Byers smiled as she surveyed the shoulder-to-shoulder scene at the no-frills community center. “It kind of snowballed, it got bigger and bigger,” she said. “I’d call this a pretty good April Fool’s Day.”

More than 40 vendors were there in person. And a couple of dozen others had their wares on display.

We’re talking everything from dolls and stuffed animals to leather belts, abstract paintings, casserole carriers, about 17 million knickknacks based on cow, sheep or pig motifs and slate signs saying “My house was clean last week, sorry you missed it.”

Any eavesdropper heard “You really have some nice things” and “Aren’t they cute,” over and over.

Many of the folks checking out the sale were unfamiliar faces to the locals. And that’s notable in St. John, a place not especially known for heavy visitor traffic.

One of the vendors, a jewelry maker from Kingston, Idaho, had trouble navigating to the fair and she had been TRYING to find St. John. But she made it. And so did a lot of others.

“I’d say it’s a success,” said beaming publicity chairwoman Diane Clutter, at 57, the youngest member of the women’s club.

All around her, dozens of voices said the same.