Participants could purchase anything from Christmas decorations and baked goods to handmade crafts and beyond.
With classic hits playing over the speaker system and a buzz from people shopping, Carolyn Gilbertson said he feels like things are getting back to normal. Gilbertson, along with her husband Rich, run Gilby’s Acre where they sell homemade fudge, baked goods, and rugs.
“I’m so happy to be back,” she said. “I’ve noticed this has been one of my busiest years, people are dying to go out, shop and chat.”
Gilbertson manages the fudge and food side of the business while her husband makes the rugs. Her husband got into carpet making because she had a loom in their basement and after setting it up they realized he was a natural man.
Rugs designed by Rich Gilbertson of Cloquet are displayed on a table during the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce Crafts, Arts & Vendors Fair on Friday, October 29, 2021, at the Otter Creek Event Center at the Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
“I like to tease him, I say, ‘he shakes my fudge pots and I tie his carpet knots,'” she said.
Gilbertson said a new thing she has had to watch out for this year is determining the sourcing of certain items. For her jams, she struggled to find jar lids compared to previous years.
“You couldn’t find a jar lid to save your life,” she said. “I got these lids from a friend of my mom’s who lives in southern Wisconsin near a hardware store that sells lids.”
Cloquet Chamber of Commerce office manager Alyson Leno said there had been a steady number of people at the fair all morning.
“We saw a lot of bags coming out so people are doing a lot of good shopping,” she said.
Leno said the fair attracts local vendors, but also vendors from across the state and some from as far away as North and South Dakota. The chamber of commerce tries to make sure that there are no sellers selling the same items, and if they are similar, each seller has their own spin.
With the wide variety of products and the chamber announcing the fair as an opportunity to purchase Christmas gifts, attendees took the opportunity to purchase gifts in advance of this year.
“It’s nice that it’s in one space and they have a lot of different options to choose from,” Leno said. “Some Christmas (fairs) later in the fall have already been canceled, so I think people were really glad we were still having it.”
The participants were happy and surprised by the quantity and variety of suppliers. Barb Larsen and her friend Carol Misiak normally visit Black Bear Casino, but decided to visit the Vendor Fair.
“We know (the fair) is really cool, and it’s twice as big as I thought it would be,” Larsen said. “I was shocked when I walked through the door.”
Larsen and Misiak weren’t looking for anything in particular, but Misiak was hoping to do some Christmas shopping in advance.
Nancy and Scott Peterson run Galvanized Guy, where they sell plasma-cut shovels, cans and other metal items, as well as blankets, crockery and other decorative items.
“It’s always a very busy show, and today the traffic was very pleasant,” said Nancy Peterson.
Handcrafted shovels created by Scott Peterson of Duluth on display at the Cloquet Chamber of Commerce Craft, Art & Vendor Show on Friday, October 29, 2021, at the Otter Creek Event Center at the Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton. Peterson creates the designs with a plasma cutter and is known as the Galvanized Guy. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
The Petersons are another married couple who work for different purposes in their business. Nancy focuses on blankets and interior design, while Scott works with metallic pieces. Everything at Galvanized Guy is done by hand, as opposed to using a machine program to cut metal art pieces.
They also produce custom work, and the couple are even looking to buy old metal items to use for themselves.
Galvanized Guy has been part of the show for four years and he gets the same booth for every event.
“We have repeat customers who come to us even to say hello and see if they have something new to have,” said Nancy Peterson. “It’s a community – the locals over there… are still there. “