Tabitha Gritts, far left, sold goodies with Moab Charter School students at the MARC's 2014 Holiday Art and Craft Fair to raise funds for the fifth grade class' field trip to Salt Lake City. Kelsey Gritts, Claire Bierschied and Conor Duniway are also pictured. This year's art and craft fair will be held on Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5. [Moab Sun News file photo]

The average big-box retailer could comfortably house well over a dozen buildings the size of the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC) under its roof. But it would struggle to fill a single shelf with the kinds of unique products that independent vendors will be selling at the MARC’s upcoming Holiday Art and Craft Fair on Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5.

As a local alternative to Black Friday madness, this year’s fair will feature homemade, handcrafted and artisan goods at the historic building at 111 E. 100 North on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., and on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In a reversal from the typical post-Thanksgiving consumer crush, vendors from all over Utah – and as far away as Oregon and Texas – rushed in advance to reserve their spots at the fair.

“We’ve been sold out for over two months,” MARC Assistant Director Liz Holland said.

With at least 56 vendors lined up this year, Holland said that shoppers will have a wealth of seasonal items to choose from.

“There’s tons of Christmas-themed stuff,” she said.

Santa Claus will also be taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with local kids on Saturday, Dec. 5.

Bathing products are always popular items at the fair, and this year, Moab resident Amanda Mullen will be selling handmade soaps, which take the shape of snowflakes and other seasonal symbols.

Like Mullen’s soaps, many items are sustainable and earth-friendly. Holland suggests that shoppers should check out the Moab Bag Company’s bags, wallets, coin purses and phone pouches, which local resident Brandy Bowmaster makes from recycled bike tubes.

“I’ve been adding lots more color this year, and I will have a couple sizes of new lined pouches available,” Bowmaster said. “Folks can definitely expect to see lots of bright colors. Maybe even a glimpse or two of a different recycled material, besides bike tubes.”

Apparel-wise, shoppers can find baby clothes fashioned from organically grown materials, as well as silk scarves and ties for grown-ups. There will also be a wide array of custom artwork, jewelry, ornaments, bird feeders and accessories for sale, and an airbrush artist will be on hand to custom design T-shirts for shoppers who drop by his table.

“You can pick a T-shirt out and he’ll airbrush it in front of you,” Holland said.

Local and regional potters will be well-represented at the fair, and Holland said that shoppers may have the chance to watch resident MARC potter Jess Dye in action.

Other familiar vendors include local woodcarver Bonnie Bower, who is well known for her folk art, including traditional-style kachina dolls.

“She’s fantastic,” Holland said. “She’s been here several years in a row.”

Bower’s kachina dolls are inspired by the butterfly maidens and corn maidens that many Hopi families hang from the rafters inside their homes.

This year, she’s also selling homemade Christmas ornaments, as well as two Nativity sets and snowmen whose atypically long and skinny shapes embody her quirky style.

“I just sort of make whimsical stuff,” Bower said.

Woodcarving can be a painstakingly slow process, and it will often take Bower even more time to paint each creation than it does to actually carve the wood. But it’s not at all monotonous – not when she’s repurposing things like antique golf clubs, which she transforms into duck, swan and dove-like figures that she calls “Birdies by Bonnie.”

“They’re fun to make,” she said. “It’s like as a child, girls play with little dolls.”

One of her favorite creations is the “Funky Chicken,” which she fashions out of quaking aspen twigs and branches.

“They sound bizarre, but they’re really cute,” she said.

They’re also limber enough to decorate holiday gifts.

“I tie them into a bow and put them on Christmas presents,” she said.

The chickens sell for $5 to $10 each, and Bower promises that they’re guaranteed to brighten anyone’s mood.

“People can go away with something that makes them smile,” she said.

56 vendors expected at arts and recreation center on Dec. 4-5

People can go away with something that makes them smile.

What: Moab Arts and Recreation Center’s Holiday Art and Craft Fair

When: Friday, Dec. 4, from 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: MARC, 111 E. 100 North

Cost: Admission is free

Information:; 435-259-6272