‘One of the best shows … in the area’
Sawnee Association of the Arts holds annual Christmas festival
Isabella Jacobs, 8, watches as Hans Meier, with Hans’ Wooden Puzzles, makes her a puzzle at the Sawnee Association of the Arts’ Christmas Arts and Crafts Festival. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

Christmas is still more than a month away, but it didn’t feel that way over the weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday, Sawnee Association of the Arts held the 14th annual Christmas Arts and Crafts Festival at Lanier Technical College, which brought out a lot of artists, shoppers and even Santa Claus, who had some memorable visits with kids on Saturday.

“It’s been hysterical. We had one little boy … he had a scroll of about four-feet long,” said Kris Straukas, co-chair of the event. “We had little wish lists the kids could fill out so when they talk to Santa they know what to ask for, and we had a little boy ask for a dirt bike and girlfriend.”

Sawnee Association of the Arts
Cayden Harwood, 2, rides on Santa’s sleigh outside the Sawnee Association of the Arts Christmas Arts and Crafts Festival - photo by Kelly Whitmire
When not with Santa, kids were able to check out the Elf Corner, one of the more popular stops, and shop for items less than $5. Forsyth Central High School’s Interact Club helped provide some elves for Santa and the Elf Corner.

“We have students that have been helping little kids shop for themselves, their dogs, their parents; there’s all sorts of stuff they can buy, and the parents are kind of hiding behind a screen,” said Ashley Brumbalow, an English teacher at Central. “Our guys have been walking around and helping them pick up items and wrap them.”

The event brought out vendors selling all types of art, including clothing, woodwork, painting, instruments, stained glass and textiles.

Being a juried show with grant funds, the show offered only high-quality works with limited space, according to Straukas.

For vendors, the show has developed a positive reputation.

Jimmy Loudermilk, of Coal Mountain Panjo, makes panjos — musical instruments made out of pans and cooking sheets — and said the festival is a great way to see the work of other artists.

“This is maybe our fifth year in a row doing it and it is very good,” Loudermilk said. “All the artists here are very creative and very talented. We do a lot of festivals and often it isn’t as quality of work as it is here.”

Carla Beasley, another local vendor selling fabric and textile items, said the event was a good way to meet customers, who might want to come to future shows. Like Loudermilk, she had high praise for the festival.

“A lot of people take cards, then if they want more products, they can let me know,” Beasley said. “As a show, it’s great because my husband and I love festivals, so we go to a lot. This is one of the best shows, I think, in the area, certainly the best show in Forsyth County.”

Shoppers Debbie Dalton and Laurie Smith were among the numerous shoppers who stopped by and said there were a lot of interesting works to check out or buy.

“I’ve come back twice,” Smith said. “[I bought] jewelry, ceramics, panjos … just some cute stuff.”