'Spectacular' holiday craft show coming to Monroeville

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:56 p.m.

Gifts galore, home decor, crafts and artwork will entice both the seasonal and everyday shopper alike at the 15th annual Greater Pittsburgh Arts & Crafts Holiday Spectacular from Nov. 16 to 18 at the Monroeville Convention Center.

Doors will be open Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the show will feature more than 260 arts and crafts booths with vendors from about a dozen states, said Dave Stoner, co-owner of Family Festivals Association Inc., which produces the show.

“It's probably one of the biggest Christmas craft shows in the Pittsburgh area,” Stoner said. “Pretty much anything you can think of you can find at the show.

Admission costs $6 for adults, $5.50 for senior citizens ages 65 and older, and $1 for children ages 6 to 12. Those ages 5 and younger are admitted free.

Stoner and his wife, Debbie, have been producing various arts and crafts shows throughout the Pittsburgh region and in Morgantown, W.Va., for more than 20 years, he said.

Dave Stoner said the Holiday Spectacular always is popular with shoppers because of its large variety of crafts and vendors.

“It's definitely not only Christmas items. It goes way beyond that,” said Stoner, of Irwin.

The Holiday Spectacular is situated in two large indoor exhibit halls at the convention center with more than 100,000 square feet total, he said. Shoppers can find holiday decorations, wooden products, painted glassware, children's toys, pet items, clothes and other things.

Various food products will be for sale and possibly for sampling at the show, including nuts, baked goods, chocolates, fudge and kettle popcorn.

A wide array of shopping opportunities always is available at the show, and customers always can find something special, Dave Stoner said.

For example, they can check out the latest in porch decorations from returning vendor John Hinkle of North Huntingdon. Items for sale will include Santas, elves and other happy creatures that are carved out of wood, Hinkle said.

He and his family own The Barn Shop, also in North Huntingdon. The shop has a large variety of the wooden items that he'll have on sale at this year's Holiday Spectacular.

He also makes various artwork from 100-year-old tobacco laths he purchases from the Amish. The laths, long wooden strips used years ago for drying tobacco, now are a popular material for crafts, he said.

Using the laths, Hinkle, 52, said, he makes decorative stars, ladders and windows; baskets; and wreaths.

The Holiday Spectacular has a lot to offer shoppers, he said.

“There's a variety. There's everything you can imagine,” said he said.

Shoppers can cross sports-related ornaments off their gift lists after they visit vendors Peter and Marian Kovalchik of Penn Township at the event.

They also will have small decorative lamps, stained glass and teddy bears for sale, Peter Kovalchik said.

Most of their items are made of wood or ceramics, and all are priced to be a good value, Peter Kovalchik, 60, said.

“It's a pretty good variety,” he said. “Ninety percent of our stuff is $20 and under.”

He said the show is a good place to go shopping.

“The quality of the crafts is there every year, and it is well-attended,” he said.

Ilona Ralston of Murrysville will be selling hand-painted glassware at the show. Her artwork focuses on floral designs on wine glasses, vases or plates, she said. Since she just began her hobby about a year ago, this is her first time as a vendor at the show.

Ralston, 34, said her glasses are dishwasher safe, and she will have items available for any occasion, not just the holidays.

Those looking for handmade gifts for children will find some at the show, including those by crafter Lucy Gail Wright-Scozzaro.

She makes furniture for dolls ranging in size from 7 to 20 inches, such as the American Girl line, she said. Everything is mostly made of wood and put together almost metal-free, she said.

“I try to make them as safe as possible,” said Wright-Scozzaro, of Level Green in Penn Township.

She decorates the furniture with cutouts, such as ladybugs or hearts, and said the furniture will endure years of play, so it can be passed down to children in future generations.

Wright-Scozzaro, 59, said she probably picked up the woodworking from her father, a carpenter and crafter. In addition, her husband's family makes furniture.

Wright-Scozzaro said she also will be selling “the cutest” baby dolls from the Dolls by Berenguer line.

This is her third year selling at the show.

“I think a lot of people there are looking for unique gifts that they can't find in a regular store,” Wright-Scozzaro said.

Children will get their chance to prove they've been nothing but nice all year long to Santa Claus, who will be visiting the festival. Families can bring their cameras for photos, as Santa will be there on from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18, Dave Stoner said.

They also can enjoy balloon sculpture and other clownish activities from clowns Glitter Dot and Dapper, he said.

People of all ages will enjoy the music of the the Carrola Brothers Jazz Trio, which will be playing all three days, he said.

Chairs will be available throughout the halls so shoppers can rest and take a break. The show will have five wheelchairs to loan out on a first-come, first-served basis. Users will have to leave a credit card or driver's license to borrow the wheelchairs, Dave Stoner said.

The convention center has a concession stand for refreshments, as well as a place to sit and eat, he said.

The site has plenty of parking, and vendors park off site and take shuttles to the convention center so there is more space for vendors to park, Dave Stoner said.

“We try and accommodate (shoppers) as much as possible,” he said.

Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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