BELOIT - The 38th Annual Wonderfest Arts and Craft Expo featured holiday treats, "elves" and plenty of gifts.
"It gets the holiday kicked off right and gets us in the Christmas spirit," said Jeanine Froeber, volunteer with the Beloit Junior Women's Club.
Wonderfest was held Sunday at Beloit Memorial High School with new vendors, raffles and a group of "elves" who volunteered their time reading books to children as their parents shopped.
Wonderfest Booth Chair Tina Tillery said more than 1,000 people were expected. With a steady flow of people mid-day, Tillery said she expected the club to meet or slightly surpass its fundraising goal of $12,000.
Funds raised by Beloit Junior Women's Club via Wonderfest are donated to charitable projects in the Stateline community such as Project 16:49, Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor's Center, VetsRoll, its scholarship program and many other local charities.
"Elves" Connie Mageland, Jane Sowles and Mary Welch were donning festive holiday dresses and spreading cheer to vendors and reading to children like Emma Cole, 1, and Adalynd Cole, 3.
Dad Kyle Cole had pitched the idea of attending Wonderfest to his wife, Samantha. The couple was impressed with their first time attending the event.
"I think it's awesome. There's a lot more than I thought, and a lot of Christmas shopping," Samantha Cole said.
"I love it," said Poppy Kane, 10. "I already got presents for my mom and grandma."
Kane was checking out jewelry sold by BraceletLuv.com owner Lynda Wallis. Wallis said she just moved to Beloit and was glad to have an event so close to home.
Vendor Karen Canzoneri was at Wonderfest selling sheets for the eighth year. She said she likes the event because it's a friendly and supportive environment which attracts a lot of repeat customers.
Froeber said Wonderfest is always popular with vendors as the Beloit Junior Women's Club volunteers arrive on scene at 5:30 a.m. and help vendors with set up. If a vendor needs to take a break, volunteers spring to action, helping them man their booths.
"We want them to come back because all the money goes to charitable organizations," Froeber said.