12/5/2011 - Big Crafty, JingleFest draw crowd to downtown Asheville
by Sabian Warren - Asheville Citizen Times
Hundreds of shoppers looking for the perfect Christmas gift crowded into Pack Place for the show. The afternoon event featured some 90 independent crafters and artists, local beer from Pisgah, French Broad and Highland and assorted treats from Short Street Cakes, Ursa Minor Coffee and Firestorm Cafe.
"I like to support local artists and handcrafters," said shopper Tara Nelon, of Brevard, who was attending the show with her 3-month-old daughter, Tehya, and her sister, Tiffany Nelon, of Lake Lure.
"Most of them are local crafters," Tiffany Nelon said. "You're probably getting something that's one of a kind. That's very personal, I think."
Artist Alena Hennessy, who has a studio in the River Arts District where she sells her paintings, prints and apparel, is a regular vendor at the show because of its vitality.
"It's a great show," He nnessy said. "I love meeting local customers. The sales are very good, and it's a fun environment. People are very supportive of your work. They want to buy local, and they love meeting the artist behind the work."
Nearby at Pack Square Park, the second annual JingleFest event drew a steady stream of people, many of them families with children. The event included carnival games and competitions, caroling and a Build a Snowman contest.
And, of course, children could visit with Santa. But Jill Williams, of Asheville, who was attending the event with her husband, Chris, and their 19-month-old daughter, Ember, said her daughter was a little leery of the Jolly Old Elf.
"She's afraid of Santa Claus, but she likes Mrs. Claus better," Williams said with a smile.
Byron Greiner, president of the Asheville Downtown Association, which hosted JingleFest, said the goal was to bring more people downtown.
"We're trying to do more family-friendly things in the park," he said. "Sunday afternoon seems to be a great time to do it. This is a fairly good turnout for the second year."