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Jump Start Holiday Shopping with Two Weekend Fairs in Darien

Crafters and Darien businesses exhibit their wares Saturday at the Darien Park District Community Center and the Darien Sportsplex.

Is it possible to begin and finish your holiday shopping in just one day?

Darien residents and visitors certainly stand a good chance this Saturday because of two uniquely separate shopping expos.

The is hosting its third annual “” at the this Saturday from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Park district assistant director Chris Katsougris couldn’t be any more pleased with the way the event has shaped up.

“Last year we had 25 crafters participate,” Katsougris said. “This year we have 44 and an additional seven on a wait list.”

There will be more than 15 tables displaying handmade jewelry, quilts, accessories and decor for home, holiday and pets. Katsougris added that patrons can purchase bean bags for bag game sets as well as tote bags for wheel chairs and items for those with special needs.

The stipulation for registering a vendor table was that all items were to be hand-crafted, Katsougris said.  

“We have made sure that all of our crafters have one of a kind, homemade crafts,” she said.

Many artisans from last year will be returning for Saturday’s craft show, which also features concessions for vendors and guests.

“I love seeing people excited about their purchases, and I love seeing the vendors happy with the amount of people coming in,” Katsougris added. She noted that admission is free and open to the public. Overflow parking is at .

Fewer than two miles away at the , the Darien Chamber of Commerce is hosting their inaugural designed to highlight Darien businesses and chamber members. Hours for the Saturday event are from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

In her own inaugural year as chamber president, Clare Bongivanni knew she wanted to add new events to the calendar - and of course promote local businesses.

“I thought it would be better to start small, see what the response is and make this a better event each year,” she said. She was pleasantly surprised when the vendor slots filled quickly.

“We ended up turning away businesses (because of space constrictions)," Bongivanni explained. “We will definitely enlarge the space for next year.”

The primary requirement for chamber members participating in the expo, Bongiovanni said, is to promote anything holiday related. The item also has to be available immediately for purchase.

Businesses selling products include , Costco, Premier Designs, Tupperware and Beijo. Service-oriented businesses such as Fred Astaire Dance Studio, and Brunswick Zone will offer gift certificates.

Bongiovanni said that Carrabba’s and will be on hand offering samples, and Laneville Family Chiropractic will give complimentary chair massages to erase stress.

Raffles will be sold - three tickets for $5 - and Bongiovanni came up with a convenient way to ensure that winners need not stay present the entire day to redeem their prizes, which were donated by the vendors.

“Although we encourage writing names and phone numbers on the back of the ticket,” Bongiovanni explained, “I’m going to post the winning ticket numbers on the chamber website so people can check their tickets.”

Both the chamber and park district charge a fee for vendors to participate. The organizations also plan to put any profits into advertising next year to increase general attendance and exhibits.

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