HISTORY OF CHAPEL HILL ARTS & CRAFTS SHOW – 2019
The Chapel Hill Arts & Crafts Show was organized 40 years ago by the United Methodist Women of Chapel Hill UMC in Sodus, MI. The first show was held in the fall of 1979 and the proceeds from this show and future shows were designated to fund Mission Projects. Sherry Burtchett, who was a member of Chapel Hill and a craftsperson herself, headed the show. Sherry had a vision to make this event into a fine quality, juried Arts & Crafts Show. As the show grew in size, the UMC Women’s group passed the show over to the entire congregation, utilizing the time and talents of many of the 200 Chapel Hill parishioners. The dedication of our members, both young and old, has helped us to accomplish Sherry’s goal. Now 39 years later we reap the benefits and rewards as the Show provides:
• Monetary support for local, national and worldwide Missions;
• A marketplace for a large number of exhibitors and shoppers;
• An opportunity for members of Chapel Hill to work together and to grow in faith.
Sherry Burtchett served as Chairperson until 1997. Lenora Cuthbert was Chairperson from 1998-2001, when Isla Case was named Administrative Chairperson. Lenora continued as Exhibitor Chairperson until 2013. In 2006, Deb Cuthbert became Exhibitor Co Chair with Lenora, and in 2013, Margie Krieger joined them, allowing Lenora to assume the role of Exhibitor Advisor in 2014. Ken Krieger was named Logistics Chairperson in 2013 also. Lori Bennett was named Exhibitor Co Chair in 2016. Barb Johns has assumed the Administrative Chair position since 2011.
Our location changed through the years as we outgrew exhibitor and parking spaces. Moving to the Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds has provided us the opportunity to offer a larger variety of crafts, with excellent parking facilities. There are 285 indoor exhibitor spaces and room for over 70 exhibitors outside. We also maintain a lunch area and bake sale. Outside there are additional crafts, produce, live plants/flowers, food vendors and a vintage tractor display by members from the Michiana Two-Cylinder Club. Two entrances to the Fairground are utilized for better crowd and traffic control
1979 – 1983 Fellowship Hall, Chapel Hill UMC, Sodus, MI – 50 Exhibitors Attendance in hundreds
1984 – 1993 Gym & Hallways, Eau Claire H.S., Eau Claire, MI – 90 Exhibitors Attendance reached 3,000
1994 – 2019 4 Commercial Buildings & 70+ Outdoor Spaces, Berrien County Youth Fairgrounds, Berrien Springs, MI – Over 280 Exhibitors since 2008
Attendance of 7,000 in 2018.
(Record Attendance of over 8,000 in 2003)
Recruiting quality crafters has always been our first consideration. Crafters have many choices as to where to exhibit, and they seldom consider new shows. They prefer established shows with excellent attendance records. We now have that history and reputation, and we can be very selective in who we jury into the show. Jury decisions are based on quality & originality. We determine the number of spaces that we will allow for each “different” category of crafts and choose those we feel meet our criteria. We have many more crafters apply than we have spaces for and must deny many due to limited room. This insures that we have “quality” crafts, which attract thousands of shoppers. Many shoppers, artists and crafters come from outside our area/state. We have earned the unofficial title as the “Best Fall Craft Show” in southwest Michigan.
In 2000, we developed the Chapel Hill Arts & Crafts Show web site. Exhibitors, potential exhibitors and shoppers can access this site to find out more about our show. They can get applications and information, find exhibitor listings and how to contact them, search for crafts by category or word, and contact us. In 2001, Exhibitor e-mail and web site address links were added for those who want to subscribe to this service. We launched this new web site in 2015.
Profits from the Show go to support Chapel Hill’s Mission Projects. The combined profits from the past 39 years have totaled over $705,725. Chapel Hill U.M.C. members thank God for blessing this show!
Local contributions include: Berrien County Cancer Service, Safe Shelter, Salvation Army, Crystal Springs Camp, plus others. National and Worldwide Missions include: Missionaries in several countries and the USA, Personal Energy Transportation Program, Society of St. Andrew, UMCOR Disaster, John Wesley Hospital Boat, New Life Center, McCurdy Ministries, plus more.
Craft Show Committee: Barb Johns, Administrative Chairperson; Deb Cuthbert, Margie Krieger & Lori Bennett, Exhibitor Co Chairpersons; Ken Krieger, Logistics Chairperson; Lenora Cuthbert, Exhibitor Advisor; Sandy Harner, Publicity; Isla Case, Secretary/Treasurer; Deb Harris & Virginia Skibbe, Bake Sale.