"After 31 years of promoting our shows and visiting a show almost every week somewhere in the surrounding states during show season, we have acquired quite a few favorites," Karen Lloyd says with a laugh.
Among her treasured finds are a painting from an aerosol artist at the Ozark Regional Fall Arts & Crafts Festival, a 3-foot-tall porcelain doll and a crown of Christ made from twisted burlap. But perhaps the one nearest her heart is a sign that hangs in her family's kitchen. It simply says "The Gathering Place," and it reminds Lloyd that over the 31 years since she and husband Bill started the crafts fair at the Holiday Inn in Springdale, "our children have been fully immersed and involved in helping run our shows. We love the fact that our vendor families have shared the births of their children and now grandchildren over the years. That is the definition of a lasting legacy."
When the Lloyds created the Ozark Regional Fall Arts & Crafts Festival in 1991, they were expecting their third child -- and the fair was held at the Springdale Holiday Inn because the adjacent Northwest Arkansas Convention Center had not yet been built. The first event was held in the hotel's ballroom and spilled over into the lobby and atrium to squeeze in 100 booths.
"Four years later, in 1995, the hotel constructed the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center, which added another 200 booths to the festival," Lloyd says, and that set the couple on the road to adding a springtime show -- in 1995 -- and a second event in Rogers. The Benton County show grew to offer 300-plus booths for 14 years, until the facility was no longer available, Lloyd says. In 2014, the Washington County Fairgrounds Fair was established, offering vendors a three-day show, Thursday through Saturday, and that outdoor venue turned out to be a blessing in disguise, allowing the Lloyds to have a version of the crafts fair in 2020, in spite of covid-19 concerns.
That indoor/outdoor choice is one of the things that sets the Ozark Regional Fall Arts & Crafts Festivals apart from all the rest, Lloyd believes.
"We can offer the convenience and comfort of an indoor facility with handicapped restrooms and parking for those who may not be able to visit an outdoor venue, while on the other hand, the fairgrounds festival offers an open-air atmosphere and the experience of the festive lineup of music and a variety of yummy concessions," she explains. "However, we truly believe the most important virtue which sets our show apart is the personalized, one-on-one attention we give to each of our vendors so they have the best opportunity for a successful show."
Fall Crafts Fairs
Ozark Regional Fall Arts & Crafts Festivals — Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 14-16 at the Washington County Fairgrounds and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 15 and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Northwest Arkansas Convention Center. Admission is free.
Spanker Creek Farm Arts & Crafts Fair — Located at 8464 W. McNelly Road in Bentonville, the event will be open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 13-16 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 17. Admission is free.
War Eagle — War Eagle Mills Farm, War Eagle Mill and Sharp’s Show at War Eagle all happen around the War Eagle Creek bridge. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 14-16 and until 4 p.m. Oct. 17. Admission is free.
It’s Fall Y’all Craft Fair — 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 14-16 at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Bentonville.
Bella Vista Arts and Crafts Festival organizers announced in September that this year’s event would not take place.