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Vendors prepare for COTR shoppers

A great part of the Saturday of the Christmas on the River festival is the Fair in the Square, featuring vendors from near and far selling homemade crafts, jams, jellies and other doodads and gift ideas.

The vendors were setting up their booths in the City Park on Friday, all with varying backgrounds regarding Christmas on the River.

Nancy Wade of Prattville, along with her husband, Mark, and her sister, Glenda Wright, have one of the highest-traffic spots on the park at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Washington Street.

“We have gift baskets, we have baby items, hot pads and towel sets,” Nancy Wade said.

“One of our big sellers is cookie-cutter baskets,” Wright said. “We sell a lot of our garden baskets, too.”

Wade said that she had been to the previous three Christmas on the River festivals, locating at different spots in the park, working her way to the corner spot.

“We just do this on weekends,” she said of the crafts that she sold. “We go to several craft shows.”

Coming to Christmas on the River has certainly helped her sales.

“We’ve always done really well (at Christmas on the River),” she said. “I just hope more vendors show up. Right now, it looks pretty slack compared to this time in other years.

“It’s great! You can just watch the parade while you’re still working, and it’s so fun!”

Mark Wade said that the crowd numbers well into the thousands for Christmas on the River.

“We’ve seen 10, maybe 15,000,” he said. “It’s wide open.”

Local vendors like Charlene Rowser, will also be selling items. Rowser and her husband, Charles, will be selling homemade preserves on Washington Street.

“I’ve been making preserves for a couple of years now,” she said. “I hope that people will be able to come out and enjoy this, the way the economy is. There are still things to do that you can enjoy doing it.”

Bobbi and Melvin Langham have come up from Jay, Fla., to sell basketry and other wicker items from their booth along Main Avenue. This is her first time back to Christmas on the River after a harsh December here years ago.

“I came here a long time ago, just the one time,” she said. “It was sleeting. This is my first time back since then

“We got out here at about 9:30 (Friday morning) to set up, and we’ll be out here around 6:30 in the morning (Saturday).”

Jim and Becky Phillips of Sebastopol, Miss., is making his first trip to Christmas on the River to sell handmade wooden furniture from his booth along the sidewalk behind Rooster Hall.

“We were at another flea market — I believe in Carthage, Miss. — and a guy told us that he had been over here, and he had some of the same stuff, and he had done real well over here,” Jim said. “I had heard about the Christmas on the River, but I didn’t know you had this Fair in the Square. I’m retired, and I do this (make furniture) as a hobby, make a little spending money.”

As you walk through the vendors’ areas in the park today, take some time to talk to them. As you make a new friend, don’t forget to thank them for taking part in the Fair on the Square. They may become a “December Demopolite,” a neighbor you see every Christmas on the River and can look forward to seeing each year.