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Harvest Festival to feature handmade products

Forty years ago, a small event in San Francisco united artists for an opportunity to make and sell products to the community. That initial show has evolved into the Harvest Festival, a 10-show series slated to make its Las Vegas stop Friday through Sunday at the Cashman Center, 850 Las Vegas Blvd. North.

Nancy Glenn, Harvest Festival show manager, said the event showcases its 1972 roots with local artisans and entertainment.

"The most unique thing to me is every single piece of merchandise is made by a local artist," Glenn said. "We've brought back the heart and soul from the first show in San Francisco. We're keeping it grass roots, fun and folksy."

Vendors with products such as woodwork , paintings, clothing, food, home decor, toys and more are expected at the festival . Live bands and raffles also are planned.

Among the vendors is Norm Caruthers, owner of Las Vegas-based NaturArt. Caruthers creates stone candles and fountains to sell at shows throughout the country, including at the Harvest Festival.

Caruthers said he enjoys being part of the event because it marks the start of trade show season.

"For a lot of vendors, this is the first show of the season," Caruthers said. "Buyers get the cream of the crop of material vendors make because five to six weeks later, they don't have time to make the rest, or there might be less in stock."

Other Harvest Festival vendors see the benefit of involvement with the first show of the year. Fred Heminger, owner of California-based Heminger's Chocolates, is one of them.

"It's the start of our show season, and it's my wife's and my life in the fall," Heminger said. "We have a huge following in the Las Vegas area, and we have as much fun chatting with people at the festival as we do selling fudge."

Heminger is in his 25th year with the Harvest Festival. He and his wife, Susie, opened several fudge stores in the Palm Springs, Calif., area but closed some because of the popularity they experienced in selling their products at trade shows.

"We're just one of many exhibitors that have had a degree of longevity," Heminger said. "I think part of the whole show's (success) is having unique items people purchase and take home with them."

In addition to the artisans and music, opportunities to help local charities play a role in the Harvest Festival. The Sunrise Children's Foundation is set to have an area for kids to make crafts and a parcel check where festival attendees can safely store their purchases. Shopping bags will be available for $1 each, with proceeds going to the foundation.

Another nonprofit group set to benefit from the Harvest Festival is Safe Nest, which has been involved with the event for more than 15 years. Attendees who donate canned goods, paper products or baby items receive a $2 discount on admission.

Lisa Lynn Chapman, spokeswoman for Safe Nest, said the organization receives a majority of its annual donations through the Harvest Festival.

"When the community comes out and gives that food, it fills our pantry for at least six months," Chapman said. "It probably feeds about 500 women and children, and we have about 1,000 people who stay at the shelter annually."

A national nonprofit group, Operation Christmas Child, is set to be featured at the Harvest Festival , too. Representatives from the organization are scheduled to be on hand in assisting children with decorating shoeboxes that will be shipped with gifts inside to other children throughout the world.

Glenn said working with nonprofit groups exhibits the community aspect of the decades-old Harvest Festival.

"We feel that we're a community-based festival," Glenn said. "We always partner with two or three community groups for each show, and it's heartwarming to work with them."

Admission to the Harvest Festival is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors 62 or older and $4 for youths 13 to 17. Children 12 or younger are free if accompanied by an adult. The show is slated for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday . For more information, call 415 -447-3205 or visit

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at or 383-4686.