Return vendors help make Maple Leaf successful

A shopper browses a craft booth at a recent Maple Leaf Festival. More than 300 booths will offer shopping opportunities this weekend. Enlarge photo

October 18, 2012

Labor Day Weekend was not a time of leisure for the family of Donna and Denny Haddox.

A number of her grandchildren and her daughter-in-law were busy in the family workshop helping her husband, Denny, fabricate metal lawn and garden decorative items for the fall craft show season, Donna Haddox said.

“They have jobs or are away in college. This is a day they can help,” she said.

One of the shows the South Coffeyville, Okla., couple will attend this fall is the Maple Leaf Festival.

“We used to do 25 or 30 a year,” Haddox said. “But this year, we’ll do 10 at the outside. Age is catching up to us.

“We weeded out some of the smaller shows. Baldwin is one of our better shows. People look forward every year to what we have new.”

The family bends and shapes long steel “sticks” into gates, trellises, garden baskets, planters, whimsical animals and other items to decorate lawns and gardens, Haddox said. They try to add new items to their group of tried-and-true popular sellers, she said.

“We try things we see in magazine or what we think might work,” she said. “Sometimes, nobody likes them but the builder, but most of the time they work.”

As they have since they started attending the Maple Leaf Festival more than a decade ago, the Haddoxes will set up shop at the corner of Eighth and Indiana streets. The intersection at the southern end of the festival gives them plenty of room to display their wares and park a trailer filled with more.

“People can drive up and load our stuff, which makes it kind of nice. Some of our stuff is heavy and bulky,” Donna said. “People know where to find us. We appreciate the Maple Leaf committee taking that into consideration, because we get a lot of repeat customers.”

Donna Curren, booth chairman for the Maple Leaf Festival, said 20 to 25 percent of Maple Leaf vendors signed up for the next year during the last day of the festival, which guaranteed they would return to the same spot.

Such loyalty helps ensure Maple Leaf will again have its maximum limit of vendors, Curren said.

“We’re totally full,” she said. “We have about 215 vendors — about 300 with the food and Business and Professional Women vendors.”

Haddox said the Maple Leaf Festival has grown since she and her husband first started attending about a dozen years ago.

“It’s definitely taken a leap,” she said. “It’s such a beautiful town and the people are so nice and friendly, it makes you want to come back.”

Although here for business, she’s also a festival sightseer and customer, Haddox said.

“I usually try to get away,” she said. “I usually try to see what others are doing. And we eat. Some of the smells just tantalize you.”

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