Ask any of the Center for the Creative Arts Annual Artisan Show organizers about past shows and they'll all wax on about how great the event is for shopping and seeing art.
"We have a lot of people who annually shop with us because like to give artwork or just something unique for gifts at the holidays," said CCArts Executive Director Carla Pastore. "We also have lots of good food and you won't recognize the place once we get through decorating. The whole event is just so much fun."
And, while she's looking forward to this weekend's event, the memory of it will likely be marred for her and her staff thanks to the inexplicable act of a nameless, faceless thief who stole one of the handmade signs commissioned just for the event.
"We're also just so upset about it," Pastore said. "We were so excited to have these signs and so appreciative of all the hard work that went into them. It's hard to believe someone would take one."
The idea for the signs started more than a month ago when the organizing committee got together to discuss advertising. Anxious to make the show a success, the group knew they needed a visual reminder for people driving by the facility but they also didn't want to spend a lot of money.
"The lower we can keep costs, the more scholarships we can give to students," Pastore said.
That's where two volunteers who immediately stepped up to the plate to help: First, Larry Thurell secured the wood and constructed the two-sided signs. Suzan Bergdoll then took over, hand-stenciling and painting the signs.
"It took a long time for me," said Bergdoll, who is often in a considerable amount of pain resonating from a long-time spinal injury. "When your back starts hurting, you have to take a break you know?" But, my dad helped quite a bit and even though it took us almost two weeks to finish them, we got them done and we were so proud of them."
Once they were done, she and her dad hauled them from Bergdoll's home just over the state line in Pennsylvania and set them up—one went at the center's entrance on Rt. 82 while the other one went at the apex of Rt. 82 and Upper Snuff Mill Row.
"We called Carla and waited for her and then we all did a drive-by or two to make sure they were placed at just the right spot," Bergdoll said.
That was on Friday, Oct. 25. Bergdoll got to work early on Monday, Oct. 28 and noticed the sign on Rt. 82 was missing. At first, she thought the sign had been moved to another location. Later in the day, though, Pastore came in and asked her about it and the two had a sinking feeling that the sign had been stolen.
Page 2 of 2 - "We called everybody first to make sure it wasn't just moved," Bergdoll said. "But, by the time the last person got back to us, we knew it was gone."
"I know it sounds silly to be upset about it but a lot of people worked really hard on that sign," Bergdoll said. "I just don't understand why someone would take it."
She does have a few ideas, though.
"Maybe somebody wanted the wood. It was nice, heavy wood—not thin, particle board—so, maybe somebody wanted the wood," Bergdoll said. "I don't know. Maybe it was kids. Sometimes kids think something is funny when it's not. Maybe it was just a mean person. I just don't know."
Bergdoll, Pastore and the rest of the organizers have resigned themselves to the fact that the sign is likely long gone and are determined to still have a good weekend with the show. Bergdoll is pulling double duty this year as both an organizer and a vendor.
"I hate what happened with the sign but it will still be a fun weekend. It always is," Bergdoll said.
Pastore added that this year's event actually features more than 40 vendors, several musicians and groups and a little pop-up café selling homemade soups, sandwiches, drinks and cider donuts. The event also features a preview night tonight that includes a wine-tasting.
"The preview night is so much fun," Pastore said. "A lot of women come in and make a night of it and we see lots of couples doing some early shopping."
The money raised throughout the weekend will be put back into CCArts through scholarships.
"I've gotten to work with a few of the scholarship students," Bergdoll said. "They're so sweet and appreciative of the experience. I just want to raise enough money so that more students get to come through here."