Holiday shoppers swarmed the Lowell area last weekend for the annual three-day Christmas Through Lowell event. Over 300 artists and crafters had their creations for sale at over 50 local homes, businesses and churches last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Downtown at Flat River Gallery & Framing, 219 W. Main, they had a special holiday-themed artists market set up in their recently-renovated back room.
“We've got cider, cookies and a variety of small items that are available for sale,” said Flat River Gallery artist Marylu Dykstra, who paints with acrylics and watercolors. “We're really excited about it. In the back room there area ornaments, little decorative items, paintings and art from the other artists that are in the gallery. And we've got snacks!”
Teresa Gaudino, a Flat River Gallery artist with a wall's worth of “oil and palette knife” paintings on display, said it was her second year participating in Christmas Through Lowell.
“It's going great so far, and it's picking up,” Gaudino said. “I love it. I love meeting all the people who come in from everywhere, from out of town, and getting to know them a little bit.”
Downtown was swamped, but the real action was at private homes around the Lowell area. The line of people waiting to get into stop # 8, “Homespun Holidays” on Burroughs Rd., stretched about 50 feet out the side door and into the driveway. Those patient enough to get inside found a house filled with crafts, including repurposed vintage items, antique Christmas decorations, folk art, furniture, food and more.
“We've been in it for over 20 years, we're one of the originals,” said homeowner Karin Jelsma. “Most of our art is by folk artists. We have people that travel all over the country to find these unique Christmas antiques and one-of-a-kind finds that we repurpose. We have people come from out of state to see our show, they come from all over. It takes people back in time. They love to come through.”
It was a little less crowded but still busy at stop #14, “Little Black Muumuu,” in a home on Four Mile Rd. about seven miles north of town.
“We are selling barn wood crafts, crocheted items, hair scrunchies, Christmas ornaments and holiday cheer,” said homeowner Lauren Pnazek, who was actually wearing a muumuu. “My mother [Mary Clark] and I made all of it. I made the barn wood crafts, some of the wood ornaments, some of the jewelry and the little luminaries in the window. The barn wood is from a barn that fell down here. We've just been kind of repurposing that wood, slicing it up and decorating it.”
“I am selling custom cakes and cookies,” said Deirdre Olszewski of stop # 30, “Deirdre's Cakes & Bakes,” in a home on Cumberland Ave. Olszewski is a baker by trade who studied at the Culinary Institute of Michigan in Muskegon. “I am also taking preorders for Thanksgiving and Christmas for tarts and other seasonal baked treats. You can order a shortbread sandwich cookie sampler, that is a dozen cookies, four flavors, three of each flavor. There is also a classic cookie sampler box with three chocolate chip cookies, three Mexican chili chocolate cookies, three shortbreads and three peanut butter cookies. I'll bake them fresh and you can come pick them up at my home.”
It was Olszewski's first time participating in Christmas Through Lowell.
“It's been great,” Olszewski said. “Everyone has been so friendly and excited to be out. So far it's been a very positive experience.”
“It's going great,” said Jaclyn Stouten of stop # 26, “Cute and Clever Crafters” on Bowes Rd. “I love Christmas Through Lowell. “We've had pretty steady business, in line with other years we've done this. We've been doing it for years, over a decade at least. We just have so much fun. That's the best part, hanging around in the kitchen to see who comes in. We're really happy with the nice weather this year, no sleet.”
Lowell Women of the Moose assembled 15 crafters at stop # 22, the Christian Life Center, 3050 Alden Nash SE.
“It's my first time doing Christmas Through Lowell,” said one of their vendors, “the popcorn man” Glenn Fountain of Saranac. “It's very nice.”
“We'll have steady traffic from the time it opens until, sometimes, past close,” said Women of the Moose member Beverly Coonrod. “We're very happy, we have a great variety, our location is awesome and our vendors are very creative. They brainstorm all year, then there are many sleepless nights during the last week trying to get everything together.”