It’s probably safe to assume that the event’s organizers hadn’t intended to offer a beat-the-rush shortcut to holiday depression.
And maybe at other times during its two-day weekend run at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds, the vibe was different. But late Sunday morning, the Coeur d’Alene Christmas Fair was one dreary affair.
There were hardly any paying customers. And those few who had showed up discovered that many of the offerings belonged in a third-rate flea market, not in something billing itself as a big-deal arts and crafts festival.
“Too many other shows in town this weekend,” explained a man standing near some wolf figurines.
As the smell of hot dogs wafted through the exhibit hall and recorded Christmas music provided an oddly melancholy soundtrack, you could walk around beneath unforgiving fluorescent lights. And you could check out Shaquille O’Neal posters (“Showtime’s Back!”) old coins, handmade knives, “Plus-size clothing at petite prices,” unintentionally scary Mr. and Mrs. Claus dolls, herbal relief for arthritis, a cleanser promising to “Eliminate your exposure to toxic chemicals,” various beer-brand souvenirs, big pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis, dinosaur earrings, curling irons, weight management systems, too-cute kitten posters, Coca-Cola signs, a hair-braiding device, “Beagle Xing” signs, Star Trek action figures and suggestive portraits of a full-figured woman sleeping outdoors without much on in the way of pajamas.
More than a few of the people selling this stuff sat behind their tables and read paperbacks or a newspaper. They seldom looked up.
You couldn’t blame them.
OK, it wasn’t all grim. There were these appealing pressed-flower arrangements. Some handmade bird houses certainly looked like they belonged at an arts and crafts show. And a young woman promoting a line of soup mixes showed signs of life.
For the most part though, it was pathetic.
Now there’s really no call to put down the people attempting to sell stuff. Most were probably just trying to scrape together a few extra bucks.
And when it comes to the crafts that seemed awful, well, that’s just one opinion. Maybe somebody else thought they were great.
“Everything’s half off today,” said a woman trying to sell jewelry.
When you entered the Coeur d’Alene Christmas Fair, a woman just inside the door stamped the back of your hand with the inky image of an angel blowing a horn. By the time you figured out that the angel was sounding a warning, it was too late.
, DataTimes MEMO: Being There is a weekly feature that looks at Inland Northwest gatherings.