Holiday shopping season kicked off in grand fashion Friday as Ardmore celebrated the opening of the 48th Annual Carter County Arts and Crafts Fair at the Hardy Murphy Coliseum and the Ardmore Fall Festival at the Ardmore Convention Center.

Both locations were brimming with activity as shoppers milled about examining wears, sampling offerings and spending their hard earned money on homemade, handcrafted or imported merchandise.

Ardmore optometrist Sarah Veazey visited both sites with her mother to do some early shopping while enjoying the local flair the Hardy Murphy Coliseum provides.

“I love coming to these kind of events, they are so much fun,” Veazey said. “I love that Ardmore has it. I just love coming to the Hardy Murphy Coliseum and all the fun things they have. My daughter entered three events in the Free Fair. I love it when people get together and make stuff and sell it.”

Most fan favorites returned to both sites, including Dickson vendor Rebecca Martin. Martin and her nephew Andrew were selling some of the baked goods found year-round at their bakery in Dickson, as well as jarred goods purchased wholesale from Oklahoma’s Amish community.

Martin has used the event for the last three years as an outreach opportunity to connect with a wider customer base.

“This means a lot for our business, these are local customers and it gives us an opportunity to meet the locals,” Martin said. “Most people don’t know where we are, so this helps a lot.”

For other area residents, Friday at the fair provided an opportunity to get in some early shopping and a little bit of socializing.

“I haven’t attended in several years, and I am amazed at how well laid out and how well planned and well organized this is,” Ardmore resident Dixie Harper said. “It’s been a real joy to come out and experience this. They have really done a lot of work out here.”

Harper said she enjoyed the ambiance the Coliseum provided with the packed dirt floors of the arena and the overhead speakers lofting music over the shoppers.

“There are some new things, but there is a lot of handmade stuff, too,” Harper said. “A lot of the small things, the Christmas favors, the little reindeer and Santas are for $1, $2, and they are all handmade.”

Across town, the parking lot at the Convention Center was near capacity as shoppers meandered from booth to booth sampling goods and making purchases along the way.

A new face at the Fall Festival this year has a long, storied history with Oklahoma and author Louis L'Amour.

Artist Dale Adkins, best known for his illustrations of the Louis L'Amour western novels, began drawing sketches as a child growing up during the Great Depression in central Oklahoma. Adkins’ career includes a stint in the United States Air Force where he served as a pilot during the Korean Conflict, he also did illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post.

“I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most published living artist, because I’ve lived so long,” Adkins said. “My prints have gone all over the world.”

While 2019 marked Adkins first involvement in the local craft fair scene, he’s no stranger to Ardmore.

“It’s a beautiful town now, beautiful city, it’s very clean,” Adkins said. “I haven’t been around Ardmore a whole lot recently, but I find the city to be in a real growth pattern right now. They are getting bigger and bigger and the town is clean. I used to come down here when I was in college in Oklahoma City. This town has grown exponentially since my younger days. It’s a big town now, and I’ve enjoyed it.”