Tolovana Hall transformed into a festive pop-up art show and craft bazaar for the Tolovana Arts Colony’s first-ever Holiday Gift Party, an opportunity for community members to “shop small” and support local artisans.

On Friday, Dec. 9, North Coast residents gathered to enjoy food and drinks and peruse locally made gifts of all kinds beneath colorful disco lights.

Local artist and Tolovana Arts Colony board member Debra Carnes organized the event to “bring in local art.”

Originally from Michigan, Carnes has created handmade woven art for 30 years. Though she learned how to weave baskets from a friend, she is primarily self-taught.

“It’s really a fun art form,” said Carnes, whose artwork has been showcased in juried shows and galleries in Michigan, Florida and Oregon, including at the Stormy Weather Arts Festival. Her hand-crafted woven baskets include materials found in nature.

Creativity runs in the family. Her daughter Rachel Laura displayed her paintings and sculptures, also found at White Bird Gallery, and Laura’s young daughter and son created handmade earrings for the event.

Other pieces on display included paintings by Scott Johnson, mixed-media designs by Allyn Cantor, woodblock prints by Thomas William, jewelry by Libby Pattison, herbal tonics from DJ Ankendbrandt, clothing from Jen Jenuine, watercolors by Amy Carleton and more.

The pop-up art show is a yearly tradition for the Tolovana Arts Colony that has coincided with the Stormy Weather Arts Festival in recent years. This year, the nonprofit arts association aimed for a holiday destination event instead.

Combined sales were more than $2,700 throughout the weekend, Tolovana Arts Colony Program Coordinator Andrew Tonry said.

The Christmas tree lighting is a longtime tradition, beginning in the mid-1970s when the gas crunch and economy kept visitors away, according to organizer Margo Dueber.

Business owners began the tradition of performing Charles Dickens at the newly remodeled Coaster Theatre. 

“One of the most beloved characters was the lamp-lighter who went up and down the street with his ladder every eve in December lighting the lamps,” said Dueber, who has organized the event since 2010.

Jay Schwerer, who died in 2013, lit the lamps for more than 36 years.  

“The event was great this year,” Dueber said. “For the first time, we had a real sound system engineered by Bruce Smith Sound and everyone could hear.”

Fifth-graders Keira Rodriguez and Marcel Atwi lit the lamp on Dec. 3. Mayor Sam Steidel reminisced about Christmases as a child in Cannon Beach, musician Lauren Sheehan shared Christmas tunes and artist Bill Steidel sang his “Christmas in Our Hometown” song, which he has sung at the event since its inception. 

“Pictures With Santa,” another Haystack Holidays event, took place at the Cannon Beach Library on Dec. 10. After taking photos with Santa, children enjoyed story time and arts and crafts activities with library volunteers.

Drones, glow-in-the-dark shoes and a space station were among the items on kids’ wish lists this year, said Santa, who has entertained kids at the library for about 29 years.

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