Story and photos by Darl DeVault, contributing editor
The Santa Market Craft Show, December 1-2, in the Pavilion Building at the OKC Fairgrounds, is Oklahoma City’s premiere free, two-day showcase for one-of-a-kind, Christmas-themed creations benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma.
As one of Oklahoma’s most extensive free-admission, nonprofit arts and crafts shows, the 192 carefully chosen, creative vendors will sell their products during the 14th annual festive shopping experience. The show offers free parking, a silent auction, and more. The hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Handcrafted items are available for all of the shoppers’ seasonal gift needs at an event that raised $44,000 last year for Alzheimer’s work.
Visitors are encouraged to bring their children to get free photos taken all day with Santa at Oklahoma City’s most prestigious Christmas market each year.
“We work on this show all year,” organizer Molly Nye said. “It is a true labor of love and helps all of us by doing something positive to combat Alzheimer’s. If anyone would like to be involved by volunteering, donating an item or service for the auction, or an item for the Alzheimer’s booth, please contact Joan Clarke at 405-314-1033. Be sure to get your free picture with Santa, Del Humphreys and visit with the lovely Mrs. Claus, Linda Turner. I also have it on good authority that The Grinch himself will be there this year.”
Shoppers are treated to home decor, homemade arts and crafts, boutique and holiday items, jewelry, children’s clothes, books and food goodies. The first 1,000 visitors receive free shopping bags sponsored by local businesses.
Joan Clarke, Molly Nye and Megan Nye began the event in 2010, after Joan’s husband died of Alzheimer’s in 2007, to support the charity addressing one of America’s most challenging diseases.
“Molly and I had been selling items at craft shows for years, and we decided to start our own event. We booked a small room in a hotel and started with 17 vendors,” Clarke said. “By the time our third year began, we realized how much work putting on a quality show involves, so we decided to make it a fundraiser. Molly immediately suggested Alzheimer’s since Joan lost her husband and Megan lost her father to the terrible disease.”
All funds raised through The Santa Market further the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. All donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
“Our excellent vendors make this show what it is each year. We are one big family; everyone helps promote the show, advertise, and find new vendors. They donate to our cause, monetarily and with their products, even though it’s voluntary,” Clarke said. “They help with set up, clean up and everything in between. We have three vendors that have been with us all 14 years. Countless more have been with us for 5, 8, or even 10 years. One vendor named it ‘The Greatest Show on Earth,’ and it truly is.”
The organizers limit the number of crafters assigned spaces. Clarke says It is not about turning away new vendors but only allowing a limited number of each type of vendor. They wish they could take everyone, but having a variety makes for a better shopping experience, and the vendors have a much better chance of success.
Clarke says some vendors see the event as an opportunity to make sure their favorite charity receives as much as possible from their craft world and them personally. By writing personal checks to the Alzheimer’s Association when The Santa Market rolls around, these vendors do their part to help. They also donate products and gift certificates to the Alzheimer’s auction and the Alzheimer’s booth.
The Santa Market promoted the show at the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s that occurred on October 28 in downtown OKC. This year, the event saw 1,431 people walk in 290 teams at Scissortail Park to help raise awareness and funds for care, support and research. The event exceeded its $625,000 in donations goal.
Clarke and her family have walked every year since 2003.
National presenting sponsor Edward Jones helps to make the walks the world’s largest event to fight Alzheimer’s. The Santa Market was one of three Impact Sponsors this year and fielded a team for the walk.
This year, the US Food and Drug Administration approved LEQEMBI, a prescription medicine treatment for people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease. This newly approved drug in the US targets amyloid proteins and reduces existing amyloid brain plaque.
In a large, 18-month study, treatment with LEQEMBI was proven to slow the progression of early Alzheimer’s disease. It helped people remember, solve problems, and complete daily activities for longer.
The organizers say the successful 13 years of The Santa Market Craft Show could only be done with the help of quality vendors, loyal customers, volunteers, sponsors, and donors. They call it The Santa Market Family and hope everyone will attend to make it a success again this year. This year, Steve Eldridge, Senior News & Living and Oklahoma Nursing Times publisher, is a Diamond Sponsor. For more info, see: www.thesantamarket.org.