By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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The sixth annual holiday fair, a benefit for river center programs for grown-ups and children, is two days long instead of one this year, and open at the center inside Railroad Bridge Park at 2151 W. Hendrickson Road, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. today and Saturday
Admission is free, but visitors will want to bring money for shopping among the tables loaded with art, crafts and baked goods.
The event is all about moderately priced gifts that local artisans make with natural materials, said Julie Jackson, one of the volunteer organizers.
These items range from luminarias — tea-light holders — decorated with pressed flowers to one-of-a-kind wreaths and table arrangements made of fresh greens, big-leaf maple leaves and grasses.
Other gifts in the array: lace snowflakes, tree angels by Dorothy Shreffler, “cat mat” beds, Japanese kimono silk purses and scarves made by Mary Mira, hand-painted ornaments by Tuttie Peetz and hand-warmers knitted by Joan Craft.
Then there are the Buddy Biscuits for dogs, baked by Melissa Coughlin. Her organic pet treats sell like mad, according to Jackson.
Pose with bear
Nature Mart visitors also may pose for pictures with the river center's brown bear.
The taxidermy bear, part of the center's collection of mounted mammals and birds, will be on a pedestal out in the courtyard.
“If you've ever wanted to be safely up close and personal with a bear, this is your chance,” said Nature Mart co-chairwoman Gretha Davis.
For a small donation, volunteers will take festive photos with the bear and with the river center's “Rocky Raccoon.”
The market also presents an opportunity to win a work of driftwood art by Peetz, an award-winning sculptor who lives in Sequim.
It's the “Enchanted Heron,” and just 100 tickets to a drawing for the sculpture will be sold.
Tickets are $20 each for “Enchanted,” which won the people's choice prize at the river center's 2011 Art in the Park festival.
The drawing will be held at the close of Nature Mart on Saturday, and the winner need not be present.
Throughout the Nature Mart, the river center porch will be the place to find homemade pies, cakes, cookies, breads and other treats, Jackson noted. Visitors also can enjoy hot cider while they shop outdoors.
And Saturday only from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., hot soups from the Sunshine Cafe in Sequim will be available for further warming.
To learn more about the Nature Mart and other activities at the river center, visit www.DungenessRiverCenter.org or phone 360-681-4076.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.