Steven Peterson will be joining other vendors at the Grand Center this weekend to sell these hand-crafted holiday ornaments and other items. [Photo courtesy of Steven Peterson]

The Moab Arts and Recreation Center’s Holiday Art and Craft Fair is not the only show in town this weekend.

On Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5, the Grand Center at 182 N. 500 West will be hosting its own holiday gift fair. It kicks off on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., and runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Grand Center Director Verleen Striblen said that shoppers will be able to find a wide variety of handmade crafts from more than three dozen vendors. In addition to the vendors, the fifth-grade classes from Helen M. Knight Elementary and Moab Charter School will be raising funds for their respective trips to Boston and Washington, D.C.

Shoppers who work up an appetite while they’re browsing won’t have far to travel in search of a quick bite to eat. The Grand Center’s kitchen will sell its locally famous Navajo tacos, sticky buns and pies.

Proceeds from the vendor fees and food sales will be set aside in a fund for a new outdoor pavilion at the Grand Center.

“We have had a generous donation toward it and we are (raising) the money to add to what we have,” Striblen said.

Scentsy-brand candles and other commercial products will be available for sale, although the selection of locally made items is a main draw for many shoppers. Among other things, vendors will be selling night lights made out of wine bottles, crocheted ornaments, stained glass artwork, jewelry, painted gourds and hand-crafted wood decorations.

“They’re all really nice,” Striblen said. “It just depends on what you want.”

For vendor Steven Peterson of Pete’s Woodworks, all he wants is an occupation that keeps him busy.

“I’m retired, and I just about go crazy,” he said. “I just decided, I’m going to try to do something.”

The former LeGrand Johnson Construction Co. division manager ultimately settled on woodworking, even though he had no prior experience with the material.

“I should say not,” he said. “I could pound a survey stake in – that’s about as close as I ever got.”

But you’d never know it if you glanced at one of his hand-crafted holiday wreaths and decorations.

Peterson harvests some of the wood from juniper trees that burned during area wildfires, and he said the scorch marks give some of the “flowers” on his wreaths a unique character.

“They’re just kind of rustic looking,” he said.

He also makes reindeer ornaments out of cork from wine bottles.

“It took a lot of drinking to do that,” he deadpanned.

Like Peterson, lifelong Moab resident and Holiday Gift Fair vendor Jim Foy is not a woodworker by trade: He’s a retired building contractor whose work landed him on the pages of Architectural Digest and Better Homes and Gardens magazines.

Once he had more free time on his hands, Foy went from building houses to making hand-carved household items, including bowls, cutting boards, rolling pins and stirring spoons, as well as candle holders, wooden swords and walking sticks.

Foy prizes his creations for their distinctive look.

“Each bowl is not the same – they’re all different,” he said.

He attributes that uniqueness to the kinds of wood he uses, from invasive tamarisk and Russian olive trees, to quaking aspens, elms and cherry trees. Even the naturally occurring tamarisk colors vary from tree to tree.

“They’ve all got their own character, and they all have their own color,” he said.

Holiday fair features handcrafted items from three dozen vendors

“They’re all really nice … It just depends on what you want.”

When: Friday, Dec. 4, from 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 5, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Grand Center, 182 N. 500 West

Cost: Admission is free

Info: 435-259-6623

For more information about the Holiday Gift Fair, call 435-259-6623.

Editor’s note: To learn more about the Moab Arts and Recreation Center’s Holiday Art and Craft Fair, please see the Nov. 26-Dec. 2 edition of the Moab Sun News.