Get a jump on your Christmas shopping with this annual arts and crafts sale

Debbie Arambula’s colorful artwork will be on display at this weekend’s annual sale.
Debbie Arambula’s colorful artwork will be on display at this weekend’s annual sale. Harvest Festival

The Sacramento Harvest Festival is coming to Cal Expo this November for the 44th year in the city, bringing arts and crafts, food, gifts and entertainment to shoppers just before Thanksgiving.

The festival, which bills itself as the “largest arts and crafts show on the West Coast,” offers over 24,000 items handmade by vendors. Because the artisans are on hand, many of the pieces for sale are customizable.

The festival promises quality art, with all exhibitors evaluated by a jury before they’re approved to show their works.

Catherine Cowles and her husband Ovie run Leaf Motif, making prints, sconces and more from 3D scans and presses of leaves and flowers. Cowles described the artists at the show as a “band of gypsies, all very creative and hardworking.”

“We get along very well. We’re all doing very different work, but trying to entice and cajole our audience together,” said Cowles.

Cowles said that she and many other artists at the festival spend all year preparing and building their inventory for the Harvest Festival and other holiday art shows.

When asked how many pieces she and her husband will bring to the festival, Cowles said “as many pieces as the truck and van can carry.”

The weekend will also feature music, comedy, and holiday-themed “walking entertainment,” with elves, Mrs. Claus, and a Santa on stilts strolling alongside shoppers.

A Kids Zone will provide activities for little ones, with arts and crafts they can make and take home and a free child ID photo booth by New York Life Insurance.

Products available for purchase at the festival range from fine art, like paintings and sculptures, to modern mixed media and even body art.

Renu Lal was voted Sacramento’s best Henna artist by Sacramento Magazine and has been showing at the Harvest Festival for 15 years, she said.

Her “prayers you wear” henna designs channel spiritual beliefs and good wishes into their wearers, Lal said.

“It’s like a sacred geometry,” Lal said. “You can choose your design, or I can give you a free reading. I tap into your energy and I can tell what symbols you need and why.”

Artists who have been exhibitors at the Harvest Festival for more than a decade say it’s special because it feels more upscale and has more returning shoppers than most festivals.

“People come with their daughters and mothers and friends every year,” said Cowles, who has been selling her work at Harvest Festivals across the state for 14 years. “You get to know these people a little bit, and they get to know you. It’s really wonderful.”

If you go

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18

Where: Cal Expo

Cost: $9 adults; $7 for seniors and military; $5 kids 13 to 17, kids 12 and under are free.