GOODLAND — The vibe at the Christmas Arts & Crafts Show, held over the weekend in Goodland, was lowkey, laidback, and local. In other words, it was just what you might expect for the downhome, slightly disreputable fishing village that shares Marco Island, but was left outside when the city limits were drawn up. The third annual show, put on by the Goodland Civic Association, was held at the Collier County Boat Park on Palm Court.
Unlike many area crafts expos, that feature slick professional booths by carpetbagging northern artisans, and food vendors with the "same old same old," the Goodland bazaar had a decidedly Goodland feel, with most of the craftspeople, and many of the customers, local Goodlanders. If they were driving around in a golf cart, that was a sure sign, along with a certain weatherbeaten air, like a seasoned crabber's boat.
Stone crab claws were on the menu in the form of Christmas ornaments, thanks to Judy Wittwer. She turns the claws into day-glo painted parrot heads, suitable for your Christmas tree, after first consuming the delicacy inside.
"Me and my cat," she said, "we gotta eat, right? She hears me crackin' and comes meowing." You could also buy crab buoy art at the "Gifts from the Gulf" booth of local Margi Fortune, along with "redneck wine glasses" fashioned from Mason jars, with slogans such as "well-aged drinking team" and "drinks well with others." One customer said she was looking for "a tacky mug to take back to Pennsylvania," and seemed to believe she had come to the right outlet.
Bonnie Duffy used coconuts as the raw material for her art, turning them into footballs promoting your choice of college or NFL team. "I sell a lot of Bears coconuts," she said, attesting to the strong Midwest connection. She also had the appropriate gift for the Miami Dolphins fan on your Christmas list, given the way the Fins' season is going – logo-decorated crying towels.
Another local artist harvesting nature's bounty, Pam Mull used seashells for "Pam's Pleasures and Treasures," as she has dubbed her operation. She sold scallop shell wreaths for $15, shell mobiles for $35 and up, and a selection of miniature Christmas encrusted with shells, which glow from a light within.
Pierre and Catherine Boileau, visiting from Quebec, admired the local wares, but made their first purchase from an outside artist, Clay Tinney, at his Flaming Copper booth. He and his copper jewelry fit in though, coming from another funky island even further south, Key Largo.
Items from still further south were on display at the Miracles in Action tent, where Guatemalan beadwork and handicrafts are sold by the Naples-based non-profit to help build schools in that Central American country.
On the verandah of the boat park, Terry Lee provided the tunes on his guitar, accompanied by new Goodland resident Ben Olsen and Tom "Celloman" Porter. Food choices included Del-Mel Jamiacan foods, where Ted Pongracz said Pauline Dixon was cooking him some "goat meat for an old goat."
Sebastian Hermans' "poffers," are miniature beignets, sort of Dutch jelly doughnuts. Hermans, a Netherlands native, calls his business Dutchkins, and like many of the food and crafts vendors, can also be found Wednesdays at the Marco Farmers' Market in Veterans' Community Park.
Dawn "Madame Mac" Bryant ladled up Cajun crawfish gumbo, collard greens, smoked ham and cabbage, as well as her signature dish, homemade macaroni and cheese, in a variety of flavors including lobster, enough to make you rethink the whole concept of dieting. Goodlander Vicky Beaver dished up samples of a variety of homemade and "ready to cook at home" foods, including soups, spices, breads, side dishes, as well as flax seed and chia seed, which she said is more than a way to grow green hair in a pot.
"Goodland Gal" Linda Van Meter sold copies of the "Goodland Gals and Pals Cookbook," a collection of local recipes heavy on seafood, including country catfish, crab quiche, shrimp cakes, and tuna pasta primavera. And keeping the bazaar local, the Goodland Arts Alliance sold T-shirts and tote bags, furthering their mission to "preserve, promote, and advance the cultural presence in the Village of Goodland," although you could say that Goodland's culture is already pretty well established.