AIKEN -- Raised in Aiken County on a dairy farm, Gail S. Dedmon began drawing her first artistic creations in the smooth dirt outside her family's home more than 30 years ago.
The country barns and old houses that surrounded her during her rural upbringing inspired her to become an artist, she said.
"When I was 6 or 7, I remember telling all of my country cousins that I was going to be an artist one day," she said. "Of course, they didn't believe me."
The Aiken resident has been drawing and painting professionally for 20 years. Her detailed works of Southern landmarks and serene natural scenery will be displayed this weekend at the 29th annual Christmas Craft Show.
The free event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday at H. Odell Weeks Center on Whiskey Road. More than 140 crafters and vendors from throughout the Southeast will be on hand to peddle their goods.
Organizers expect about 15,000 holiday shoppers -- the largest crowd ever.
"I do a lot of my Christmas shopping there," Mrs. Dedmon said. "It's a really good show with great quality work."
Mrs. Dedmon, whose artwork has been displayed at 20 shows this year, will have 36 of her limited-edition prints -- her latest being the Old Sheldon Church ruins near Beaufort -- and some original paintings at the festival. Her collection includes oil, acrylic and watercolor medias along with mixed media creations.
"We have many talented crafters lined up for this year's show," organizer Lisa J. Hall said. "There will be a lot of unique things people can't find at the mall."
Members of South Aiken Presbyterian Church will perform the Christmas play The Offering at 3 p.m. Saturday. To entertain children while their parents shop, Mrs. Claus will ride in from the North Pole to read Christmas stories to the good little girls and boys and pose for pictures.
Stories will be read from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 2-3 p.m. Sunday.
There will be carnival rides for $1.
"This is the first year we've had events for the children," she said. "We'll definitely keep them occupied."
What: 29th annual Christmas Craft Show, where more than 140 crafters and vendors from the Southeast will have goods on sale for holiday shoppers
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 1:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: H. Odell Weeks Center, 1700 Whiskey Road, Aiken
Reach Katie Throne at (803) 279-6895 or email@example.com.