By George Stahl
Special to the Sun
For 19 years, the Peddler’s Faire has given local artists, merchandisers and purveyors of unique antiquities a marketplace where they can display and sell their wares in the Kern River Valley. According to Jeanette Rogers Erickson, “We have a total of 58 vendors this year, and 27 of them are charitable, non-profit organizations. We are quite blessed that we have been able to do this for so long.”
The Annual Peddler’s Faire was held this past weekend from Oct. 6 thru Oct. 8, and every year, it keeps getting better. Presented by the Rotary Club of the Kern River Valley and Faith Community Church, in Wofford Heights, it has proven to be one of the most anticipated events in the valley. Both the vendors and the visitors share that sense of anticipation. Over the years the Faire has become more than just buying and selling. It has turned into a place where the community comes together.
During the weekend, over 200 people made their way thru the vendors’ tables and displays at the Faith Community Gym. While the excitement of the event is usually found inside, this year, as in several past years, representatives from the One Spade Mule Packing Team were there with two of their mules, Sadie and Maggie, giving demonstrations and offering free rides to the attendees. On Saturday afternoon, Katie Olivares presented a fashion show with some of the items from her boutique, Dress Your Soul, located in Kernville. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners were sponsored and prepared by several organizations from the KRV, and drawings were held throughout the event giving an opportunity for shoppers to win prizes donated by the vendors.
The vendors sampling their products were as eclectic as the fashions worn by the ten graceful models in the fashion show. They included just about anything and everything that would be on your Christmas list. Some of those featured were crafts and clothing from Kathy Agapiou of Wofford Heights, artful home goods by Kimberly and Patricia Hitch, and an array of personal and home safety items displayed by Tammy Coots with Damsel in Defense. Also, presenting an entire line of beauty products with everything from makeup to applicator tools, Karen Hall was offering Youniquely You’s Moonstruck collection. Jewelry was not to be upstaged that weekend by any means. Vendors dealing with jewelry in a number of different mediums were there to show off and sell items ranging from custom-made magnetic jewelry offered by Jeri Horenstein, to one of a kind items from Terry McMillian, to Maar Crabtree with her Creations by Design custom-made jewelry.
Several of the valley’s service clubs were also on hand to bring awareness to who they are and what they do for the community. Among those were the Kern Valley Exchange Club, The Rotary Club, The Elks and both the South Fork Woman’s Club and the Kern River Valley Woman’s Club. The Kern County Sheriff’s Department had a group of representatives with brochures and information on Neighborhood Watch programs, safety tips for seniors and resources for anyone who may be, or know someone who is a victim of domestic violence.
Jane Smith with Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County (ADAKC) has been coming to the event for 13 years and oversees ADAKC efforts in the KRV. “We encourage people to visit us at the Senior Center. We are there on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1:30. Come on down for lunch, or to just visit. It’s a good way for caregivers and patients alike to sort of get the day off,” Smith said.
Next to her booth were four ladies from the Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation. Lynn Zontini, Barbara Andrade, Kathryn Lee and Marie Rushton greeted attendees encouraging them to be a part of the solution to the over population of the county’s animal shelters by doing whatever they could to control the problem of the growing number of stray dogs and feral cats in the valley’s neighborhoods with the help of their spay and neuter program.
Gary Zuber with Honor Flight Kern County was urging people visiting his booth to have any military veterans in their families or neighborhoods to contact him. The next scheduled Honor Flight is on Oct. 25. Onboard that flight will be 25 World War II veterans and their guardians. “We are already planning for next year,” Zuber said. In Sept. of 2018, 57 Vietnam veterans will be headed to Washington D.C.; four of those are from the KRV.
Local businesses who offer services rather than goods were also at the Faire. One of these was Sheryl Parmelee, owner of Kern Village and The Burlington Assisted Living Facilities. “I hold a special place in my heart for the elderly of the valley. We try to do what we can to make their lives a little easier,” Parmelee said.
Along those lines of making people’s lives a little easier, one of the other many regular participants at the Peddler’s Faire had a booth not far from Parmelee’s. Ken and Irene Martinson were set up with Operation Christmas Child again this year, signing up and handing out Shoeboxes to be filled with needed items for children around the world. It’s a program Irene brought to the valley several years ago and has been a success with the churches and other organizations around the KRV from the beginning.
Organizer of the event again this year, Jeanette Rogers Erickson, said, “This just keeps getting more wonderful every year. I can’t believe it’s been 19 years since we started all of this. Thank you so much to all the wonderful people who help to make the faire a success and who keep it alive,” she said. “The vendors, clubs, businesses and those who make the food are just fantastic, but the people who come to shop keep us going. Thank you.”