For decades the day after Thanksgiving has been a highly anticipated showcase for local artisans and craftsmen to display their wares and creations at Kenai Central High School. The event is sponsored by the Kenai Fine Arts Center and offers a local opportunity for holiday shoppers to find unique one-of-a-kind Alaskan made gifts to send to family and friends outside, or to decorate their homes for the holidays. Thousands attended this year's Fair and many families traveled from as far away as Anchorage to attend the event. "We actually bring a truck down. We leave the kids with their grandparents and my sister and I come and shop 'til we drop. It's kind of a family tradition with us and we love visiting friends here on the Kenai," said Jane Wayley of Eagle River.
A new face at the Arts & Crafts Fair, but a very familiar one to the Peninsula Kathy Lopeman, retired CPH oncology nurse, had a booth displaying her latest creations in glass. "I'm here selling my fused glass art which a process where I start with a plain sheet of flat glass and fire it to another sheet of glass laminating layers until I'm happy with it then I slump it by firing it again into a mold. I started with a small kiln, but now I have a large kiln and the art has become an obsession with me," says Kathy.
According to Lopeman she learned the art from her son who did it as a hobby to release stress, "I would play with his scrapes when I'd go to babysit the grandkids and now I'm totally addicted and probably have more glass in my stock than he does now," laughed Kathy. The result is a lovely plate, platter, or piece of display art that is as functional as it is beautiful and dishwasher safe adds Kathy, who organized the first Relay for Life on the Peninsula and now coordinates the Way Out Women (WOW) snow machine ride to raise funds for local cancer patients. "This year's WOW ride will go from Freddy's Road House in Caribou Hills over to the CCL Lodge at Caribou Lake and back. We're expecting another great event that will include an auction and costume prizes and of course the Wild & Wooly Bra event so ladies get creative," said Lopeman.
Now in its 8th year the WOW ride since 2007 has contributed over $250,000 to the WOW Fund has given assistance to 239 individuals on the Peninsula to help the community with the emotional and financial burden of a cancer diagnosis. Riders can sign up individually for the $100 entry fee or as a team and are encouraged to gather pledges for the cause. For more information about the coming WOW ride or to visit Lopeman's fused glass studio in her home call Kathy a 283-7602 or 398-4853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.