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Swedish Days shoppers, crafters, get down to business

Created: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 5:30 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – The 62nd Swedish Days celebration in Geneva opened Tuesday with a full slate of carnival rides, food, music – and shopping – and cooperative weather until about 8 p.m.

Geneva police confirmed that Geneva Chamber officials shut down the festival because of severe weather and a tornado warning.

But earlier Tuesday, clear skies drew many to the craft show to see returning artisans and new wares.

The craft show continues today and Thursday.

Judy Schuett of Batavia came, encouraged to go by her daughter, Angie Lindgren and granddaughter Camri, 4, had just gone through the Hamilton Street craft show, looking for little-girl ballerina items and baby stuff, as she is expecting another child.

“She dragged me,” Schuett said of her daughter, laughing. “I have not been since I was a teenager.”

“I wanted to come for the sales, the sidewalk sales and the craft show,” Lindgren said.

Rick and Betty Crokin of St. Charles said they have been coming to Geneva’s six-day festival for years.

“I come for the food,” Rick Crokin said. “We like the Italian sausages, I like some of the steak sandwiches they have – and I’ll watch my wife spend money.”

Betty always seeks out jeweler Dorn Cheske for her hand-made items out of gold, silver, crystal and precious stones.

“I have quite a bit of her jewelery,” Betty Crokin said. “We also like the concerts and of course the Little Traveler and the Galena Winery.”

Crafters came from all over, including Jessica Applegate from Joliet, featuring old CDs turned into decorative mosaics with a polished mirror look. A regular at the Kane County Flea Market, this was her first time at Swedish Days.

She cuts up donated CDs, which are then baked into a grout and cement mixture of various shapes, including pigs, angels, rabbits and turtles, which can be put outside as garden decorations.

“They can be left out all year round and not brought in during the winter, “ Applegate said. “We have recycled thousands – hundreds of thousands – of CDs.”

This was Stacey Thomas’ second time at Swedish Days. She was selling hanging wooden plant baskets and planters that are made of little blocks of wood and dipped in deck treatment to be waterproof.

Thomas, from Buchanan, Tennessee, said she and her husband cut the wood themselves.

“It starts out as 16 -foot-long 1-by-12s and I rip them up into strips and I cut them into blocks,” Thomas said. She splayed her hands to show she has all her fingers.

“I pay attention when I’m working,” Thomas said.

And Kama Darr of West Lafayette, Indiana, was selling jewelry she makes from vintage typewriter keys from 1890 through 1947. The old-fashioned keys are in green, black and beige and are surrounded by a silver patina, she said.

“After the war they stopped making them with silver, so that’s the cutoff date for me,” Darr said. “I don’t tear them apart if they are in working condition, I only use the ones that are already [broken] apart or would cost too much to fix.”

Her business, The Vintage Key, also features old watch works and old anagrams from the 1950s, and old organ keys from a church, old cash register keys and buttons.

The festival, which continues through Sunday, is a never-miss event for Michele Kline of St. Charles and Annette Sutila of Geneva.

“We have been coming to Swedish Days for 36 years,” Kline said.

And their favorite thing: Shopping at Merra-Lee on Third Street. A complete schedule of events is available on the chamber’s website, www.gene

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