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North Pole by the Sea : Winter Fantasy Festival Opens on Laguna’s Sawdust Grounds

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The city got its first snow of the season Saturday, and 3-year-old Kristin Drury got the first snow of her life.

“Before coming we talked about it a lot--snow being wet and cold,” said Bonnie Drury, Kristin’s mother, who came to the first Winter Fantasy arts and crafts festival in Laguna Canyon.

“She’s never seen snow,” Drury said, “and this is a lot easier than going to the mountains.”

Kristin tromped around in a T-shirt and sneakers--without mittens and hat--in a mound of snow about 15 feet wide. Charles Drury, her father, captured each movement with a video camera.

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“We had promised her there would be snow here,” he said.

Kristin and the other children did not care that the snow had been pumped onto the festival grounds through hoses from a refrigerated truck that morning.

The snow helped attract about 1,000 people and 100 area artisans Saturday for the four-day winter version of the summer Sawdust Festival. The fair will conclude today.

“I think it puts people in the Christmas mood,” said Chris Krach, president of the Sawdust festivals. “It is similar to the summer Sawdust Festival, only applied to winter. Next year we might make it run two or three weekends.”

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The merchants sold ceramics, original artwork and handmade Christmas ornaments. Even Santa Claus appeared. Santa and elves sat in the shade and heard a long list of wishes from children.

Though not many parents ventured into the snow, they too had some fun.

“I think it interests me more than my kid,” said Kathy Greeley of Huntington Beach, who had come with her daughter, Brenda. “I’m a Christmas freak.”

Greeley said she finally coaxed Brenda out of the snow so they could look at the paintings and crafts.

Most exhibitors are veterans of the summer festival and offered similar crafts, but with a Christmas touch.

“The timing of this is good, because it is before Thanksgiving, when people start to get in the holiday mood,” said Ora Sterling of Plum Foolish ceramic designs in Laguna Beach. “I didn’t know how it would go this year, but response has been good.”

“This is a lot of fun,” said one merchant who had closed the BAT Ceramics Gallery in Laguna Beach for the weekend to be at the festival. He sat on a chair just a snowball’s throw from the snow heap.

“Every square inch of snow is covered with kids,” he said.

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