By Michael Stewart / Executive Editor
The Meridian Star
This weekend marked the 28th year for the Annual Homemakers Arts and Crafts Show and Sale, held Saturday and Sunday at the Frank Cochran Center in Highland Park.
When the craft show and sale debuted nearly three decades ago, it was a means for area housewives to make extra money off their crafts and baked goods, said Patty Swearingen, county director for the Mississippi State University Extension Service
"Most of the women work now," Swearingen said. "Some of them still use it as a way to make a little money before Christmas."
Saturday an estimated 1,100 shoppers browsed the 120 vendor booths at Highland Park. On Sunday, early morning rain pushed most of the vendors inside where booths were lined with, among other things, jams, pies, birdhouses and jewelry — all homemade.
Meridian residents Faye and Bill Latham were among the shoppers.
Faye Latham said she liked the fact that the items for sale are unique.
"I think it is fantastic," Faye Latham said of the work involved in making the items on display. "It shows a a sign of love and patience."
Judy Harwell has been with the homemakers group for 25 years. She said although the membership has changed since that time, the organization has thrived.
Swearingen agreed. This year's craft sale was one of the largest in the event's history.
"We posted it on Facebook and that brought a lot of younger people in," Swearingen said.
The event also serves as the group's annual fundraiser. Proceeds from booth rentals and a $1 admission fee benefit Care Lodge, LOVE's Kitchen, Hope Village for Children and Feed By Faith.
Swearingen anticipated the group will raise about $3,500 for local charities from the two-day event.
The Crafty Ole Ladies group from College Park United Methodist Church were selling baked goods, ceramics and jewelry.
Puchuta resident Queen Bradley was selling colorful wreaths that she first began making years ago as a hobby.
"I just started doing it one day and it kept getting bigger and bigger," Bradley said.
Collinsville residents Jimmie Carol Pete and Ferd Ward Buntyn were selling embroidered items that ran the gamut from T-shirts, to towels and bookmakers.
Specialty Designs by Jimmie Carol & Fern is run out of a dining room and was started in February as a way for the women to stay at home with their retired husbands, Pete said.
"I sold my baby grand piano to buy the sewing machine," Pete said.