Shopping, tradition and Brunswick stew

There was essentially something for everyone at the 39th annual Juried Arts & Crafts Holiday Show, presented by the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2.

After handing Santa a notebook that contains his Christmas wish list, 7-year-old James Kern of Odessa, left, listens as Santa, reads the list aloud inside the booth operated by the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club. (Santa couldn’t be there, so he sent his helper, Tom Bock, of Lutz, to fill in). Donations made at the booth will benefit the YMCA. (Christine Holtzman)

Thousands flocked to Keystone Prep High School, at 18105 Gunn Highway in Odessa, to check out offerings from about 350 vendors, to enjoy a bite to eat and to socialize. Some were there to confer with Santa, too.

Spending time at the arts and crafts show is an annual  tradition for Nicole Reilly and her mother, Mary Lynn, and this year they were thrilled to introduce it to the newest member of the family, Nicole’s 7-month-old son, Lincoln.

Bonnie Duvall and Judy Curry, friends who live in Wesley Chapel, said they enjoy attending the event every year to shop for Christmas gifts and to enjoy the Brunswick stew served at the Boy Scouts booth

Heather Herzog, of Port Richey, and her mother, Debbie Denamen, of Hudson, also made the trek to do a bit of shopping.

They had plenty of choices.

There were booths indoors and out — offering handcrafted jewelry and home décor, soaps and candles, paintings, photographs, gourmet sauces and dips, and handmade clothing and quilts, among other things.

At the Burn Out Candle Company shop, Gail Allison, of Floral City, smells the inviting scent of a sandalwood soy candle. The shop owners are Allan and Vicki Spires, of Lake Placid.

Seven-year-old James Kern, of Odessa, took advantage of the opportunity to hand-deliver his Christmas wish list to Santa. Among the items he would like are a Hess truck, Disney passes and Play-Doh.

Karen Lee Kulas, owner of Exclusive-Lee Designed, a new vendor at this year’s event, had not considered there wouldn’t be electricity in her booth.

So, she improvised. She shined a flashlight on her handcrafted pendants, to show off sparkling opals, agate, jaspers and fossil jewelry.

Kulas, a snowbird from Wisconsin who winters in St. Petersburg, was at the festival, with her husband, Mike.

Event admission was free, but a $5 parking fee was collected to benefit Keystone Prep High School.

The festival is the largest fundraising event for the GFWC Lutz-Land O’Lakes Woman’s Club, which uses the proceeds to support scholarships and numerous local community causes.

By Christine Holtzman

Published December 12, 2018

Seven-month-old Lincoln Reilly, of Tampa, sports cool shades while napping in the comfort of the baby carrier worn by his mother, Nicole. His grandmother, Mary Lynn, said she and her daughter attend the festival every year, and were thrilled this year to introduce the tradition to a new generation of the family.

Bonnie Duvall, left, and her friend Judy Curry, both of Wesley Chapel, admire the handcrafted Christmas wreaths made by shop owner Carol Matthews. Curry said that attend the show every year to shop for holiday presents and enjoy the Brunswick stew served at the Boy Scouts booth.

These 8-year-olds, Willa Jeckel, left, and Sophia Shelhart, were not about to let a little rain put a damper on their day of shopping. The girls, both from Tampa, make good use of a pink butterfly umbrella on the afternoon of Dec. 1 at the 39th annual Juried Arts & Crafts Holiday Show.

Six-year-old Nola Barber, of Lutz, left, and her 9-year-old sister, Crosby, search through a large bin filled with name engraved ceramic pendants used to make necklaces at the booth owned by Lora Thomas. They were hunting for the names of their beloved horses.

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