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Not Your Grandma's Gifts 

Local artisans offer holiday deals for discerning shoppers

Remember the popsicle-stick art you made in fourth grade? Yeah, and then your class sold the stuff for a 200 percent profit to adoring parents and grandparents? Maybe there were some cardboard bookmarks for sale, too. The two upcoming holiday bazaars we're talking about here feature crafts, but not THOSE kinds of crafts.

In the coming weeks, at least two locally oriented Bend groups are hosting separate food and craft gift fairs that will feature products handmade by talented locals. Now you can get all your holiday shopping done in one place (or two, if you go to both fairs, which you should).

Rather than made-in-China trinkets, you'll find herbed cheddar cheeses from a Prineville cheese maker, gin made with Central Oregon juniper berries as well as ceramic teapots, knitted hats and dainty earrings all shaped and crafted by local artisans. Events like these are why we live in Bend—a community that promotes and values careful craftsmanship.

Find such items at both Central Oregon Locavore's Holiday Gift Fair and the Old Ironworks' second annual Craft-O! holiday bazaar. Locavore's second annual event is on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Old Stone Church near downtown Bend and will be followed by the Old Ironworks bazaar on Saturday, Dec. 15 at the artist collective on Scott Street, near the railroad tracks.

Both markets will feature more than 20 local artists and vendors. And, almost as important, both gift fairs are serving food along with toddies and spiked eggnog to ensure that you remain in the holiday spirit.

Admission is free to Locavore's family-friendly Holiday Gift Fair, where you'll find handcrafted gifts as well as items from Cada Dia Cheese, T's Tonics and Oregon Spirit Distillers—all local vendors. Full disclosure, the Source Weekly and our partner, Lay It Out Events, are sponsors of the event.

Locavore, which connects Central Oregonians to local food producers, is pushing sustainability through agriculture, but buying local has economic implications, too.

"Economically, as far as buying locally, the percentage of revenue that stays in the community is vastly higher than if you spend your money at Walmart," said Stuart Breidenstein who, along with assistant Cari Dolyniuk, created the Workhouse, which is one of many vendor stations at the Old Ironworks, where Craft-O! will be held.

According to a number of economic studies, Breidenstein is correct about how much money stays in the community when you buy local. The math shows that somewhere between 65 to 75 percent of the money that's spent locally returns in the form of taxes, payroll and other revenue. Compare that figure to the estimated 40 percent return on money spent at a national chain and suddenly buying in Bend makes a lot more sense.

"It's also more sustainable," said Breidenstein, a jeweler who owns Stuart's of Bend. "For most of the artists I know, recycling plays a big part in what they do."

At the second-annual Craft-O! event, which is a joint effort this year with what used to be called the Indie Craft Walk, you'll find jewelry, metal work, ceramics, knitted and sewn items, soaps, bath and beauty items, woodworking, illustrations, affordable fine art, and even kitchen stuff.

"It's all handmade stuff," said Breidenstein. "A little out of the ordinary, a little of everything. And it's all juried, good-quality stuff."

Breidenstein actually means it when he says juried. Artists were chosen based on an application and review process. And while most of the craftsmen and women are from Central Oregon, some are coming from Portland and beyond. Expect 40-plus vendors at Craft-O!, in addition to the 50 or so regular artists of the Workhouse.

Oregon Spirit Distillers will be concocting hot holiday drinks and pouring "samples" at a host bar on site. The Sparrow Bakery will remain open for the duration of Craft-O! to ensure that your energy levels remain sufficiently high.

If you want to check off your small-gift items sooner than mid-December, the Workhouse, according to Breidenstein, is also throwing a "quick and dirty $10 sale" on Dec. 1. Studio 3, for example, is offering holiday portrait photos for $10.

"It's kind of a challenge to our artists," Breidenstein said.

Also, on Dec. 6 at the Rubbish Renewed Eco Fashion Show at Century Center, you'll be able to view and purchase garments created by local artists and designers. The third-year event is a fundraiser for the Rimrock Expeditionary Alternative Learning Middle School (REALMS) and is another great opportunity to support community artists.

This year, there are multiple opportunities where you can peruse and purchase lovely, locally made items. So please, don't buy your aunt some useless knick-knack from Walmart. And don't think "kitsch" when you hear "craft"—this is the good stuff.

"Most of the stuff you see at the Workhouse is one-of-kind stuff," Breidenstein reminded.

Central Oregon Locavore Holiday Gift Fair

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8

Old Stone Church, 157 NW Franklin Ave.

Free admission

Craft-O!

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15

The Old Ironworks Art District, 50 Scott St.

Free Admission

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