Union Middle School Craft Fair

I’ve now been here close to two years and seen most of the major events Union has to offer (at least in some form).

About the only thing I haven’t seen in its “normal” iteration is the annual Christmas parade and party. It will have a tough time topping the drive-thru version last year, where people waited more than an hour in their cars so their kids could receive a toy.

But few of the events have been as unique as the 37th annual craft fair Nov. 13 and 14 at Union Middle School.

I arrived before the craft fair opened at 8 a.m. Saturday, and the paved part of the main parking lot between the middle school and City Lake was nearly full. People lined up outside, waiting for the doors to open. When they did, it didn’t take long for the halls to fill.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the event was the layout. Being an early 20th century school building, it’s had many additions built onto it. This creates a labyrinth of hallways, and they all were filled with vendor tables.

Some of the halls are long, some short, and some you have to go down short hallways to find another long hall. But they were nearly all filled with people selling everything from T-shirts to dog scarfs to roasted nuts.

Each classroom also had several vendors in it.

I must admit my interest in the event wasn’t totally for my newspaper duties. My wife recently took up painting. After creating so much art, she decided to sell her paintings online, which led to her signing up for some small craft shows.

Her first was in Webster Groves a couple weeks ago. She did very well for her first show, making several sales. She has a couple more craft shows scheduled before Christmas.

She considered selling at the Union Middle School event, but it was probably best that she didn’t do so this year. A two-day sale seemed like a lot of work, and looking at the vendors, some of them seemed tired after an hour.

The Webster Groves show lasted four hours total. One vendor I talked to in Union took almost that long just setting up her display, which included large wooden shelves, on Friday afternoon.

Still, it was valuable to attend the Union show to see some ideas for how to set up displays that will catch customers’ attention.

One artist in Union was even painting in her vendor booth. That seems like a good idea to interest customers, but since my wife’s work involves putting lots of colors on large canvases and splashing it around, that might not work for her.

One booth that caught my eye was the ukulele display, especially when the man in the booth was playing one of them.

Anything to do with sports usually looked interesting, especially artwork of baseball or hockey players.

Of course, what’s interesting varies from person to person. You might like cornhole boards or corn cob pipes.

Although I might have been a newbie to the Union craft fair, even some veterans of it, like the members of the Union R-XI school board, seemed impressed by how busy it was.

“I drove up there with the intention to go, and I saw the traffic and the cars and said, ‘I’m not getting in the middle of that,’ ” board President Dr. Virgil Weideman said at Wednesday’s meeting. “It was massive.”

Board member Amy Hall said she went Saturday afternoon, when many crafters were already out of stuff.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Mike Mabe pointed out the work of maintenance employees who were able to get all the student desks out of the classrooms after school Friday and have them back in place Monday morning.

“It’s just such a crazy event,” he said. “A lot of people did a lot of great things to make it a successful event.”