For more than a quarter of a century, craft lovers have flocked to Meaford during Apple Season to take in the huge assortment of quality handcrafted at the Apple Harvest Craft Show, which kicks off its 28th annual show on Saturday.
In the early 80s, the Chamber of Commerce added a craft show to the Apple Festival, which had been running since 1969. But after a couple of years, the Chamber decided it wasn’t worth the effort to continue managing it. The original organizers, along with Rod and Betty Jane Brebner, disagreed. They decided to take it on themselves.
Bringing some of the previous vendors on board, including Betty Jane, who made silk and dry floral arrangements and wreaths, the first Apple Harvest Craft Show was held in 1984 in the Meaford Arena auditorium. The second year, they moved to the arena floor (the rink), and filled it up about half with booths. It’s grown steadily ever since, and the show is now maxed out at 200 booths, filling the auditorium, the arena, and the Meaford Curling Club, across the street.
The show has about 20 percent turnover each year, which keeps things fresh, says Rod Brebner, who’s still involved with the craft show. “And we’ve become very selective. The committee goes through the applications and photos and picks the best. We try not to have duplication, and everything has to be handcrafted.” The organizers actually monitor that last restriction, and have actually asked people to remove non-handcrafted items.
To Rod, the biggest thing about the craft show is the contribution to the community. Over the years, the Craft Show has put back around $700,000 into Meaford projects, including the breakwall look-out and pavers, other harbour improvements, and a recent $50,000 contribution to the community health centre project. “I think that’s our biggest achievement, that we can contribute so strongly to the community,” says Rob.
Head down this weekend to find hand-thrown pottery, wooden games and toys, photography, candles, quilting, folk art, stained glass, woodworking, knitting and sewing, baking leather work, stuffed animals, painting, spinning and weaving and handmade jewellery, to mention just a few.