|The War Eagle Craft Fair|
Award-winning author Radine Trees Nehring has been writing fiction and non-fiction about the Ozarks since 1985, and her work in English and other languages has been sold around the world. In 2002 her first Ozarks mystery novel appeared. The eighth novel in the series, A Portrait to Die For, is coming soon. Learn more about Radine and her books at her website.
|The author at a book signing at the craft fair|
"Heigh-ho, come to the (craft) fair." Come, one and all. Fun, and happy purchasing are guaranteed.
October and May are big-time craft fair months in Arkansas. I have often wondered if the Ozarks area of the state (generally--the northern third and north-western sections) doesn't sink a few inches under the weight of all the visitors who come here during fair times. We area in-dwellers know to avoid restaurants and some high-traffic places during fair season, and, if we attend a fair, we go on a weekday before high traffic hits. Even then, there will be large enough crowds to make the experience full of fair-time excitement and color, and tent and wagon food sellers will be open.
The War Eagle Craft Fair, real setting for my mystery novel, A Fair to Die For, is (so far as I know) the longest continually running craft fair in the United States. First held in 1954 in a field next to the War Eagle River near Rogers, Arkansas, it now draws up to 200,000 visitors each year. They come to view and buy handmade items created and displayed by several hundred artisans from all over the United States, though the largest number of them live and work in the Ozarks. Other states represented include New York, Minnesota, Iowa, Virginia, Texas, California, New Mexico, Alaska, Montana--well, you get the idea.
|One of the many craft exhibits|
This is a juried fair. In addition to showing quality work, anyone applying for a booth must prove he or she has actually made the items to be displayed and sold, and include photos showing the seller making--whatever--anything from furniture to jewelry. No "Made in China" stickers here. www.wareaglefair.com for more information. (Many of the other area fairs have looser regulations governing what is sold.)
My husband and I have been to many War Eagle fairs, and our home displays items that prove the quality of work done by fair exhibitors. This fair is just one of dozens in the area during October, but its outstanding history of success and the known quality of the work sold there made it an easy choice as a site for much of the action in my novel. Just think of the possibilities for crime! Everything from slick-fingered pickpockets to drug sellers could, hypothetically, stalk the fair.
|Carrie's favorite quilt, the cow munching grass|
A Fair to Die For was a fairly easy novel to write. Of course, for research, I had to visit the fair one more time. I already had a focus character, Shirley Booth, an Ozarks native who is a quilter and a secondary character in my series, invites my protagonists, Carrie McCrite and Henry King to assist her in her booth at the fair. Add other series characters and a few mysterious and, perhaps, evil people, and you have it--mystery, suspense, horror, and the entertainment of attendance at a real craft fair and several other high-quality entertainment sites in Northwest Arkansas without having to endure any crowds!
See you at the fair?
A Fair to Die For
It’s October, craft fair season in the Ozarks, and Carrie and Henry are helping their friend Shirley sell her quilts and Baby Cuddlys at the War Eagle Craft Fair. After a mysterious cousin with ties to drug dealers appears, danger stalks the fair. When Carrie is abducted by killers following a breakfast at War Eagle Mill, she’s afraid she won’t escape, because—though her aim in life has always been to help others out of problems—no one who can help her knows where she is. “There is no me out there to help me.”