History of the Arts and Crafts Festival

In the early 70’s, with the Arts and Crafts craze hitting full force.. Carter County Extension homemakers held several craft workshops and also a Show and Tell Workshop. People expressed an interest in buying the Arts and Crafts.
Our home economist at the time, Mrs. Clara Kelley, suggested that the Homemakers sponsor an Arts and Crafts Festival and Sale. The first Festival was held in November 1972 at Hardy Murphy Coliseum and Nita Martin was the chairman. The first show had only 23 booths but it was an
immediate hit!!. It gave local craftsmen and artists a place to show and sell their handiwork and it gave people in the community a place to buy handcrafted goods.
After that first small show in 1972, interest grew and in 1976, the fifth year, all three rooms of Hardy Murphy Coliseum were filled with 136 booths being rented and a long waiting list of people wanting to have a booth. In 1985, the 14th year, the demand for booth space was so great that the
arena area of Hardy Murphy Coliseum was opened and was filled with over 75 more booths.
Barbara Swindell took over as chairman of the Festival in 1973 and has chaired the event all these years. Kaye Seeliger became publicity chairman in 1974 and Jean Page became advertising chairman in 1975. In 1976 Katy Merritt took booth rentals chairman and treasurer and Jody Stubbs became the manager of the Extension Homemaker Kitchen. In 1985 Leasa Chandler became the booth rentals chairman for the arena. In 1992 Jody Stubbs retired and Rita Supan and Phyllis Turner became
managers of the Extension Homemaker Kitchen. In 1996 Jody Stubbs rejoined the committee as hospitality chairman. Katy Merritt retired in 1996 and Jean Page took over inside booth rentals and Leasa Chandler took over as treasurer along with arena booth rentals. Jody Stubbs passed
away in 1997 and George Stubbs joined the committee as advertising chairman. In 2004 Janice Curtis took over food festival concessions. George Stubbs retired from the committee and Angie Rowe took over his advertising position in 2007. Jean Page and Janice Curtis retired in 2011 and Julie Maher took over Arena Booth Rentals and Judith Schofield took over Food Festival Concessions. Rita Supan moved away in 2014 and Judith Schofield added the CCHCE Kitchen to her duties to work with Phyllis Turner. In 2014 Leasa Chandler kept her position as Financial Secretary but turned Arena
rentals over to Angie Rowe. (Ginny Little, Mary McDermitt and Doniece Pitts also were on the Arts and Crafts Committee starting in 1975 and each served several years. Several OSU Extension Home Economist have served in Carter County since Clara Kelley helped start the festival and they were Sue Ellen Scott, Candi Wyatt Slagell, Melody Troop, Jan Scott, Janice Curtis and Sandy Lackey. Danielle Wells became the OSU Extension Educator in 2010.
In 1990 the food fair was added with food vendors setting up outside the Coliseum. The crowds are so large that we need the Extension Homemakers Kitchen as well as the food vendors to provided food for the event. In 1992 the name of the sponsoring organization was changed from Extension Homemakers to Carter County Oklahoma Association for Home and Community Education. In this, the 48th year, the Arts and Crafts Committee consists of Barbara Swindell, Kaye Seeliger, Leasa Chandler, Phyllis Turner, Judith Schofield, Angie Rowe and Julie Maher. This festival has consistently filled all three wings of the coliseum as well as the arena with over 220 booths. As has been the case for many years, on the closing day of the Festival, the booths for the next years Festival are mostly rented and before the next Festival there will be a waiting list of crafters wanting to be a part of this event. Without the dedication of the Festival Chairman and Committee members and most important, the support and cooperation of our Carter County Association for Family and Community Education Groups our Arts and Crafts Festival and Food Fair would not be the success it is now and has been over the years. This is a very successful Festival for both the craftsman and the public. We look forward to the future and sponsoring this Festival.
Kaye Seeliger
Publicity Chairman