MORRIS – The rains held off last weekend until the last few hours of the holiday Three French Hens Country Market, and drew crowds looking for gifts, sweets, Christmas decorations or just something for themselves.
Those in attendance, vendors said, weren’t just browsing the market, which was Friday and Saturday at the Grundy County Fairgrounds.
“It was very fun and very festive, and customers who were here were here to buy,” said Jane Kerr, a market vendor and owner of Apple Butter/Shuggies in Morris. “A lot of people were here for gift-giving ideas, or they were buying Christmas decorations.”
Six country markets have been held this year at Canal Port in Morris, and the holiday market made seven. For sale was a considerable variety of hand-crafted items, antiques, holiday merchandise, baked goods and more.
Stacy Olson, of Morris and owner of Kismet Junk, had little canisters of clips of educational films that were shown at Morris schools in the past, with titles like “How to Make Friends,” “Going Steady” and “How to set a Table.” The canisters went for a dollar each.
Also from the schools, Olson had large, heavy-duty pull-down maps from the 1960s. She said her most interesting items, though, were probably the little tags from Santa Claus, many just for adults, with such messages as, “I read your Facebook,” and “I watch you sleep.”
“I’ve never done the Christmas show,” Olson said. “I was so surprised at the turnout from all over. We had people from Wisconsin and Indiana. I did well on both days.”
Sue Webb, owner of the Ottawa-based Stringing the Stone, said she did much better Saturday.
“Today was the day,” she said late Saturday afternoon. “I only sold one thing [Friday].”
Webb makes necklaces and bracelets and other jewelry items from turquoise, red coral, amber and other stones and natural substances. Her biggest sale at the market over the weekend was a $120 turquoise necklace. Her best sellers were her stone bracelets, which she said people were buying as gifts.
Traci Tessone, owner of the downtown business Whimsy and one of the Three French Hens organizers, said the weekend holiday market went very well.
“Each year, all of the markets get bigger and better,” she said. “The atmosphere at this one is really fun and festive. I think it gets people in the mood to start thinking about Christmas. ... We had a ton more shoppers this year. We were really busy.”
There were 130 vendors at the event, scattered throughout four buildings and some outside. This year, organizers opened an hour early with a limited number of $25 tickets available for those who wanted that more peaceful kind of experience. It was nice, she said.
The Coal City Madrigals strolled around the event Friday evening, as well, putting everyone in the spirit.
Tina Vukonich, of Joliet, attended Saturday for a specific purpose – she wanted to order a purse made of her deceased husband’s ties by Nancy Kerkstera, a vendor from Lansing.
“It will be a nice remembrance,” Vukonich said.
It was Ernie and Pam Bolen’s first Three Hen’s holiday show, and they said they had very good sales. The owners of Mamie’s Toffee and Treats sold a lot of their confections to people for their Thanksgiving tables and for Christmas gifts, they said.