52nd Calico Fort promises something for everyone

Published 9:33 pm Saturday, April 13, 2024

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For 52 years, Fort Deposit’s Frieda Cross has been a vital part of the Annual Calico Fort Arts and Crafts Fair. Now, many years since the first fair, she still gets excited as the second weekend in April approaches, anticipating all the fair brings with it.

“I’ve been involved since day one,” Cross said. “I’m the only one that left, you might say the only one that’s foolish enough to still be here. But seriously, it’s a lot of fun and a lot of hard work.”

The fair welcomes over 100 exhibitors each year and returns to Lowndes County April 13-14 for its 52nd season. Featuring local food offerings, live entertainments, a free petting zoo and a host of children’s activities, the event draws people — exhibitors, performers and patrons alike — from all over the country.

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And for Cross, one of the original organizers, the people are the best part.

“What makes Calico so fantastic for me is the people,” Cross said. “I don’t want everything that is out there [for sale], but the imagination of people is fascinating. They can just be so creative.”

For the price of $10 for adults and $2 for children ages 2-12, patrons can shop among a variety of exhibitors selling everything from pet or people treats to hand-crafted decor; jewelry, apparel, bath and beauty products, art, tasty treats and much more.

Cross said many exhibitors are returning and many others are on hand for the first time this year, and guests can shop with old favorites while discovering new wares. In five decades, she has sampled the work of dozens and still finds inspiration in their craftsmanship.

“One of my best memories of Calico is many years ago,” she reflected. “We had a glass blower. And, I had walked across on Sunday morning to pick up a sausage and biscuit and was coming back towards the hospitality [area.]

“The glass blower had a stagecoach with horses. It was all glass. The dew had fallen on it and it looked like a million diamonds sparkling. It’s just fantastic to see what the [exhibitors] do.”

Local groups provide food options and Cross said many use the opportunity to conduct fundraisers. Churches, schools and volunteer fire departments provide something for every pallet — burgers, hotdogs, chicken, fries, popcorn, soft drinks, coffee, tea and a number of sweet treats.

“Bates House of Turkey is coming out to sell smoked turkey legs,” Cross said. “That’s something new this year. “Somebody also asked me if the exhibitor with the all-day sucker is going to be back. I said, ‘Absolutely, he’ll be here.’”

Children can enjoy a host of activities including a rousing game of checkers or Jenga, the free petting zoo, the bungee jump, face painting, crafts and corn hole.

Cross said favorite activities among the youngest fairgoers varies, depending on age.

“When they get about seven or eight years old, they like bungee jump,” Cross said. “The little ones like face painting.”

Gates open at 9 a.m. on Saturday and close at 5 p.m. On Sunday, the fair runs from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. No pets are allowed inside the Fort and the Butler County Humane Society will be present to provide pet sitting for a donation.