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Crafts fair wins hearts

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 27: The curtains came down on the Seventh Toshali National Crafts Mela at Janata Maidan today, but not before the two-week exhibition gave city dwellers a number of options to splurge.

The fair was a popular joint for people from all walks of life to spend the evenings as it became a shopping, food and entertainment hub. Huge footfall was registered, particularly on weekends and almost every kiosk recorded an outstanding sale.

Be it Ubaid Lone from Jammu and Kashmir, who had brought shawls and jackets and shirts embellished with aari work, or Manmohan Chhipa from Rajasthan who was selling bed covers, most of the 500 artisans who participated in the fair considered this state as a potential market for their crafts. Some were overjoyed with their sales, while others thought it was just satisfactory.

“The demand for our Patiala salwars and phulkari embroidery was so huge that we had to bring extra stock twice during the fair,” said Amandeep Sharma from Punjab.

Tara Behen from Ahmedabad was also ecstatic with the customers thronging her kiosk. “I wish the fair was extended till the New Year,” said Behen.

G.M. Damodaran from Chennai said that language was no barrier for him as he sold his cotton saris at a brisk pace.

Though in minority, a disgruntled lot raised some objections about the fair’s management. A kiosk owner from Delhi, who was selling metal accessories, said that the vendors, who did not rent a kiosk, were eating up into their target customers.

Another local seller Jyotishankar Sahoo complained that parallel fairs such as the ones at Exhibition Ground failed to give Toshali the initial impetus.

Nimai Debnath from Tripura, who came here to sell bamboo crafts, also had some grievances. However, he said that participating in the fair was a great learning experience. “Next year, we will come with a better marketing strategy,” he said.

The evenings, which showcased many classical, folk, modern music and dance performances, were another major draw. Martial arts and magic shows were also part of a cultural programme. Special attractions of the fair were performances by singer Usha Uthup and Odia stand-up comedian Pappu Pam Pam.

Minor incidents of electric sparks at the main gates and theft of mobile phones and bicycles were reported at the venue.

However, these incidents could not dampen the spirit of the visitors.