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Shoppers delight in annual craft show

Shannon Kelly of Batavia opens an "exploding box" Saturday at the Mothers Club of Geneva's 39th annual Arts and Crafts Show. The box, created by crafter Marti Schmidt, opens into layers of pages for photos. 'I've never seen anything like it before,' Kelly said.
Shannon Kelly of Batavia opens an "exploding box" Saturday at the Mothers Club of Geneva's 39th annual Arts and Crafts Show. The box, created by crafter Marti Schmidt, opens into layers of pages for photos. 'I've never seen anything like it before,' Kelly said.

GENEVA – The line was long at 9 a.m. Saturday, as early birds were ready to go to the Mothers Club of Geneva's 39th Annual Arts and Crafts Show, said club president Nikki Spitzer.

"Great turnout today, steady streams of people," Spitzer said of the club's biggest fundraiser of the year, held at Geneva High School. "The line was out the door, almost to the parking lot. We see a lot of people leaving with lots of bags."

An estimated 1,000 shoppers attended. Spitzer said the goal is to raise at least $20,000 with $10,000 earmarked for scholarships.

With 107 crafters covering all types of arts – from knit and crocheted items to hand-made bird feeders, stained glass to stuffed snowmen dolls, jewelry to quilts – many were in the market for unique gifts and holiday decorations.

Shoppers were enthusiastic about their finds. Shannon Kelly of Batavia was completely taken by crafter Marti Schmidt's Exploding Boxes.

"It's a box that you open the lid up and it 'explodes' into a picture album," Kelly said, displaying how the sides of the box fall open into layers of small pages for photos.

"You can put pictures on each of these pages and write something in the middle about what was happening," Kelly said. "You could pick a baby book one for grandma, one for an auto-show memory. It doesn't take up much room, it's cute, it's very clever. I've never seen anything like it before."

Crafter Marti Schmidt of Naperville said she developed the exploding boxes after taking a craft class several years ago.

"We made something that looked similar to this and I made it my own," Schmidt said.  "I donate all my proceeds to the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research."

It didn't take long for shoppers Helen Eggert and Barbara Reed, both of Geneva, to find what they wanted. Eggert bought a Christmas plaid stuffed cloth boot with clusters of dry berries for her front door. Reed bought a fancy hand-made cake tester.

"I hope I can find it when I need it," Reed said with a smile. "Or I'll have to use a toothpick."

Connie Erickson of St. Charles already had her hands full and she wasn't finished shopping yet.

"I've got a squirrel-free bird feeder," Erickson said, showing the handiwork of crafter Tom Degler of Geneva. "Ten dollars from the sale goes to the Northern Illinois Food Bank. I bought soaps and scrubs, grapefruit and lemon-lavender – for myself."

Kevin and Valerie Bonato of St. Charles were looking for holiday items.

"I like seeing the Christmas stuff," Valerie Bonato said. "Some of the decorations are very cool ... We like wandering around and seeing what everybody's got."

Kevin said he likes anything Halloween or Christmas related.

"Halloween is over so it's time to see what we can find to decorate with for Christmas," Kevin Bonato said. "Unlike some of the fairs during the summer here and there and everywhere, this show tends to have a wider variety of various things. It's always fun coming here and seeing something new each time."

As much as the shoppers were enjoying the show, crafters also said they were happy with the sales.

Gloria Davis of Sugar Grove was standing in for her brother, Tom Adams, for his hand-made fishing lures. His company name is Tom's Tackle.

"It has been a good show," Davis said. "All the lures are hand-made … out of wood, hand-painted and fashioned after the vintage 1920s era."

However, 95-year-old Grace Ortinau of Carol Stream, reported no one was buying her crocheted afghans.

"I've been coming here six-seven years now," Ortinau said. "It has been a good show – until today. I don't know what happened, nobody's buying."

This is the Mothers Club's last craft show – as the name will change and the club will morph into the Geneva Women's Club starting Jan. 1. There will still be a craft show next November, it will just be under the new name, organizers say.

As shoppers were coming in, sisters Stephanie Schmoker of Wheaton and Tiffany Schmoker of Downers Grove, were signing up new members.

Despite how far away they live, both are members.

"Because the women in the club are great," Stephanie Schmoker said, explaining her membership. "I love to do the philanthropy work with them. They do a lot of outreach. You do not  have to be a mother, you do not have to have children to be a member."

Tiffany Schmoker said she got involved through her sister.

"Last year I helped out with the fashion show," Tiffany Schmoker said. "It's just a wonderful group of women. I love everything about it and I decided to join this year."


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