The mother of all craft shows takes place in Birmingham, Ala., this weekend.
Birmingham Christmas Village bills itself as the "largest indoor arts and crafts show in the South" - and it's not bragging when you can back it up. This huge show packs 3,000 exhibitors into Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Doors open at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 8, and close at 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10.
But there are closer options.
The Gingerbread Shoppe Craft Show opens for its 24th year on Friday. It was started by three friends who lived in Hurricane Creek subdivision as a way to show and sell their handmade items. They included their crafty friends as well and put on a neighborhood show in the Hurricane Creek clubhouse. By 1998, the women needed a bigger venue, so the show moved to Christ United Methodist Church, where it has been held since.
This is a smaller show - organizer Red Duecker says there will be 30 exhibitors this weekend - but the crafts are diverse and the atmosphere is fun and friendly like a community party because many of the shoppers are their East Brainerd/Ooltewah neighbors.
Normal Park Museum Magnet School's PTA will put on its popular block party, Normal-Palooza, on Saturday, Nov. 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. along Mississippi Avenue in North Chattanooga. The arts and music festival is held at the upper school campus at the corner North Market and Mississippi Avenue.
There will be two stages of talent, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Crutchfield. Performing on the music stage will be Birds with Fleas, Uncle Lightning, Rick Rushing and the Blues Strangers and headlining act Paleface. Crutchfield says artist David Ruiz will create a work on the other stage and Chattanooga Aerials will perform, continuing live performance art begun at last year's festival.
"We have a really neat variety of artists," Crutchfield says of the more than 40 exhibitors. In addition there will be 12 food trucks parked at the festival to feed the crowd.
Admission into the street party is free, but there is a ticket charge for activities in the Kids Zone. Tickets range from 50 cents to $2 per activity.
The 18th annual Foothills Crafts opens Friday, Nov. 8, in Manchester, Tenn., one of the few remaining shows that accepts only original, handmade work. This year's show, sponsored by the Coffee County Craft Association, features 100 crafters.
Organizer Phyllis Dix jokes that this show annually draws "anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 shoppers depending on if there is a UT game anywhere nearby that weekend."
"We will have jewelry, original works of art, Christmas ornaments and decorations, woodworking, pottery, quilts, table runners, totebags, children's wooden toys and wooden birdhouses. We will also have a bake sale booth," she lists.
For a $1 donation, visitors will be entered in a drawing for a handmade quilt.
Dix says the Conference Center chef will serve a light lunch both show days from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT. All proceeds raised help the Coffee County Craft Association pay off their building debt.
To get there, exit I-24 at Manchester exit 114, bear right onto Highway 41 South, then make an immediate left into the Holiday Inn Express driveway. Follow signs to the Conference Center.
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
* Christmas Village Festival: Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, 2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd., Birmingham, Ala., 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday, $10 adults, $4 ages 6-12. christmasvillagefestival.com.
* Gingerbread Shoppe: Christ United Methodist Church, corner of Morris Hill and East Brainerd roads, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, free. 618-4519.
* Fall Festival: Mile Straight Baptist Church, 8448 Springfield Road, Soddy-Daisy, 6-8 p.m. Friday, free, games, crafts, hayrides and music. 423-842-2333.
* Festival of Family Fun: NHC Rossville Healthcare, 1425 McFarland Ave., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, free, gospel music, vendors, concessions, Kids Zone; fundraiser for Foundation for Geriatric Education. 706-861-0863.
* Foothills Crafts Show: Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center, 147 Hospitality Blvd., exit 114 off I-24, Manchester, Tenn., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. CDT Friday-Saturday, free. 931-728-0509.
* Normal-Palooza: Normal Park Museum Magnet School, 1219 Mississippi Ave., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, free; street fair with arts, music, children's activities to raise funds for school. normalparkmuseum magnet.com.