Calico Fort returns for 51st Fair

Published 9:24 pm Friday, April 14, 2023

The Calico Fort Arts and Crafts Fair returns to Fort Deposit on April 15-16, commemorating the event’s 51 year featuring local food offerings, musicians, story tellers, children’s activities, a free petting zoo, and a host of nationwide exhibitors.

Frieda Cross, one of the original organizations said the fair welcomes over 100 exhibitors and thousands of visitors annually. As one of the oldest, largest, and most popular arts and crafts fairs in the South, the weekend-long event is an outdoor show on 6 acres located at 1 Civitan Circle.

“We have exhibitors with all types of different clothing, jewelry, and leather,” Cross said. “The imagination of the visitors is what makes it so special to me. There are baskets, candles, knives, birdhouses, signs, wreaths, anything anyone can imagine.”

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Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children and proceeds benefit community projects.

Fort Deposit natives Hanna and Caleb Throwers are organizing the children’s area for the second year. This attraction includes inflatables, crafts, face painting, a mechanical bull, a petting zoo, a live dairy cow children can milk, and more.

“The children’s area has always been around,” Hanna Throwers said. “I grew up going to Calico Fort and remember that when I was a little girl, they had a blacksmith. We did gold mining one time. My idea in helping is to bring it back to its former glory. They had so many fun activities for us when I was a little girl and I just really want my children to be able to experience the same things and have fun.

Along with shopping and kids activities, the fair hosts a variety of food prepared by local vendors such as the Fort Deposit Volunteer Fire Department, churches, schools, and civic clubs. Offerings will include hand pulled pork barbeque sandwiches and plates, grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken strips, corn dogs, french fries, popcorn, soft drinks, coffee, and an assortment of sweet treats.

“The fire department is doing pork barbecue,” Cross said. “We’re going to have plates and sandwiches. The athletic department at the local school is doing hamburgers and french fries.” 

Performers and scheduled throughout the weekend. From country classic performers Max Conway and the Girl Next Door to vocalists Richard Honel and Steve Penley, attendees will enjoy a variety of song and dance performances.

Calico Fort began as a dream of local citizens to promote their small town, draw visitors, and develop an arts and crafts festival. The first festival, an initiative of the Calico Committee, was held on April 8-9, 1972. The fair continues to support the work of the Fort Deposit Arts Council today and is still an event supported by the entire community.

Cross said she enjoys coordinating the event. The elementary school is participating and so are local churches.

“It’s fun and it’s good for the community,” she said.