About 60,000 holiday gift-seekers are expected to pour into the Hamburg Fairgrounds for Christmas in the Country in pursuit of needlepoint pillows, hand-painted mailboxes and other artisan goodies you just can't get at your big box store.
Likewise, 400 vendors brace for the sheer influx of people flocking to the 34th annual expansive artisan market. Sprawling over five buildings and outdoor areas, it’s the kind of event you might want to plan a strategy including visiting multiple days (which you can do with a complimentary return pass).
With the Tavern, a hub of local distillers, wineries and breweries, and the food truck rodeo, the market is turning into a full-blown day trip. Enjoy a craft cocktail in one hand, balancing a burrito in the other, with a few bags of gifts in the crook of your elbow.
What began as a humble quilt show has grown into something much more. And that something is going to help you get some of your slightly stressful holiday shopping done early.
Where: Hamburg Fairgrounds, 5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg
When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 3 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 4.
Navigation: The five buildings include the Events Center, Expo Hall, Marketplace, Grange and Tavern. The Event Center is the largest. For the claustrophobic, avoid the Event Center and instead, meander through the smaller Expo Hall. The Marketplace connects to the Grange. Centrally located is the Tavern, so step out of any building for a drink when it gets overwhelming. Here is a master floor plan if you need visuals.
Vendors: With so many vendors, stopping at each booth isn’t exactly an option. If you already know the vendors you like from past years or other artisan markets, this list provides a breakdown of where each one is located. This way, strategically plan to visit your favorites, instead of randomly choosing a couple of buildings.
You'll find hand-painted goods, stained glass, kettle corn, alpaca products, jewelry, candles, quilts and the list goes on. For jewelry alone, vendors such as the Jewelry Garden, Kate Laine Jewelry, Kim O’Sullivan Jewelry Artisan, Diane Wilson Porcelain Jewelry and Wire to Fire Artisan Jewelry will all be in the Events Center, with other jewelry artisans scattered throughout the market.
For traditional artisan goods, there's plenty. But don't rule out the possibility of finding some modern, on-trend goodies, too. Hanging glass bowl terrariums holding succulents make great housewarming gifts for anyone who has just moved into a new dorm, apartment or house. Vintage Chameleon sews flannel patches onto vintage Levi's jeans, as well as prints sayings like "life is beautiful" onto old flannels.
Beer and wine: Anticipate craving libations halfway through shopping? It’s a good thing Tommyrotter Distillery and Ten Thousand Vines Winery are on-hand. Sip on a glass of wine or craft cocktail while taking a break from the hustle of the marketplace at the Tavern, a space with wineries, breweries and distillers. A bottle of local, craft vodka won't make a bad gift, either.
Food Truck Rodeo: A little shopping stress is nothing a massive Lloyd burrito can’t fix, isn’t that how the saying goes? Take your choice between pierogies from Babcia’s, mac and cheese from the Cheesy Chick and several other options at the Food Truck Rodeo. After recharging with a heaping bowl of mac and cheese, you'll be ready to look at quilts again.
What if you can't do it all in one day? It's a lot to get through, so if you need a couple of days to break it down, take it. A complimentary return pass lets you come back another day after paying admission the first time.
Parking: If there’s one thing the Fairgrounds has an abundance of, it’s parking. It is the site of the Erie County Fair, which welcomed more than one million people this past summer. Parking is free.