Interested buyers at Fall Maker's Market

Interested buyers at Fall Maker’s Market are drawn to Leslie and Linda Renaud’s booth. Markets are a popular way for people to find unique items as fall begins and the holidays approach.

OTTUMWA — For some, fall isn’t just about pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin patches, apple cider and sweaters. It’s also about the new Fall Maker’s Market.

Artists, crafters, jewelry makers and vendors gathered Saturday to showcase their work. Many have been producing their work for years and some even said it was their first time coming to the Fall Marker’s.

Chris Kontz, a children’s hat maker said she first made hats for her grandchildren and then others told her to make more and sell them. Kontz did just that, going around the state to display the rest of her hats.

Kontz took months to create hats but said it is worth the time. “What I like is people coming and leaving with a smile,” she said. “Even if they’re not gonna buy it, they still laugh and smile.”

Leslie Renaud and her sister Linda were also among the vendors. Both of them showcased their quilted bags and toys for cats and dogs, which they’ve worked on since January. They both heard about this show from the event organizers.

“One of the event organizers happened to be at the show in Monroe,” Leslie Renaud said, “and came up to us and told us about this event.”

Both have done shows for many years, choosing to come to shows every time. “It’s an outlet for the things we make,” Linda Renuad said. “We love to make them and we need some place for them to go, so we continue making them.”

The Renauds have been pursuing crafts for 25 years, first getting started with the wholesale market. They did shows for many years, took a hiatus and recently came back to participate in vendor shows. “A couple of years ago, we said, ‘You know we need to try this again,’” Leslie Renaud said. “We like to sew, we like to make things. It gives us light.”

They both said Saturday was successful.

“I love that this is in the Canteen Alley; that’s neat,” Leslie Renaud said. “We have some amazing crafters here today. This is great, excellent; the organizers are wonderful. It falls to them a lot of times if it’s going to be a great show. I think they really advertise, they take good care of us.”

Event organizer Kolby Streeby was hoping crafters like the Renauds would say something positive about coming out here, also agreeing with the success of the show. “I think it exceeded expectations,” she said. “My stressor was the weather as it’s unpredictable.”

This was the 11th year for a downtown show, but this year was the first time it took place behind the Canteen Alley.

“One of the great things about this year was that there was such a variety,” Streeby said. “The location was perfect, and I didn’t have to close off a street.”

Streeby kept coordinating this event, along with other volunteers, because of personal reasons.

“I’ve lived in Ottumwa all my life,” Streeby said. “You’ve got to be the change you want to see. People always say that there’s nothing to do in Ottumwa. I just had to make that happen.”

Organizer Maggie Horan shared a similar view.

“I hope people realize that Ottumwa has so many amazing things going on and we have a rising artist community. There’s a lot of things to love about this community. Just the fact that there’s so many people out here to enjoy it, warms my heart to know all of our hard work is paying off.”

“I hope people post on Facebook what a great experience they had in Ottumwa and downtown,” Streeby said.

Irene Whitsow was a buyer who certainly enjoyed herself. She came because her granddaughter was an emerging artist displaying her work and because she wanted to check out the different works.

“I am just in awe at what people do for crafts,” Whitsow said, “and how well it’s done. That’s what surprises me the most. It thrills me to see so many people here supporting these people that have their small businesses and entrepreneurship. I love it. I’m glad people are enjoying it and the weather is good.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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