Sugar Plum Festival advances Buena Park

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Well-decorated artistic sets and people crowded the Buena Park Mall in the downtown district of the bustling city this past weekend to commemorate not only the season of spring time, but the 37 year long legacy of the Sugar Plum Festival. Many local folks, as well as tourists were on hand with big smiles and bright spirits, all eager to get a glimpse of the new hottest items and supplies from the crafts, art, beauty, health, and culinary realms of commerce.

Well-decorated artistic sets and people crowded the Buena Park Mall in the downtown district of the bustling city this past weekend to commemorate not only the season of spring time, but the 37 year long legacy of the Sugar Plum Festival. Many local folks, as well as tourists were on hand with big smiles and bright spirits, all eager to get a glimpse of the new hottest items and supplies from the crafts, art, beauty, health, and culinary realms of commerce.

From luxurious dresses and delicious cakes, to homegrown and cultivated teas to handcrafted sculptures, the Sugar Plum Festival is sure to fit any gal’s fancy, and spark any handy man’s interest. Plus, most of the items that can be seen and purchased at the event are proudly American made. Thus, the Sugar Plum Festival, not only pays homage to our great city, but it also pays a much needed tribute to our great nation as well.

“We are proud and grateful for our handmade crafts and all of the precise work that goes into creating them,” says the Sugar Plum Festival’s owner and CEO Camilla Richter. “We unfortunately live in a time where The United States isn’t making anything. Most of our country’s jobs, businesses, and corporations are moving all of their productions out to China. Most of what is created in our country is handcrafted and built in China or some other country. Not only is American made handcrafting dying, but the overall production of goods in the United States as well.”

Richter methodically hits this issue that is currently affecting the livelihood of our country in a major way right on the nose. According to statistics on (http://useconomy.about.com) from an article by United States Economy Expert Kimberly Amadeo titled, “U.S. Imports and Exports: Components and Statistics,” Amadeo states her similar concerns that coincide with Richter’s. “The U.S. imports more than it exports. This creates a trade deficit of $471 billion. Even though America exports billions in oil, consumer goods, and automotive products, it imports even more.”

The outcome of the following information is still proving to be rather catastrophic for the United States who is still trudging through the financial turmoil that was brought about during the 2008 economic recession. “The problem is still making it to where there is no profit margin anymore,” states Richter. Still, Richter and her Sugar Plum Festival brigade of craftswomen and craftsmen, artists, cooks, and intellectual innovators believe in building and creating from within.

“I am so thankful for our cottage crafters,’” says Richter. “Our cottage crafters are the individuals who work full time jobs, but still manage to create new items in their free time. All that you see around you here at the Sugar Plum Festival, the ornaments, decorations, pastries, jewelry, and health products, it all serves as a second income for these vendors and entrepreneurs. Again, most are American made, and we try our hardest to give them a platform to express their artistic passions and expertise.”

The seed that conceived the Sugar Plum Festival was first planted in Long Beach by Richter and 16 of her closest friends within her own home back in the 1970s. It has since grown and manifested into a vast miracle that has touched the lives of so many people from all around Southern California. Not only does the Sugar Plum Festival ignite creativity, or exhibit an immense and pure form of patriotism that has not been evident in our country as of late, but it is also the yarn and needle that stitches ages, cultures, and generations of people together from all walks of life.

“I can still remember our first show at my home in Long Beach,” explains Richter. “So many people came that the cars from the customers blocked off the neighborhood street. The police had to be called in to see what all of the commotion was about. I remember the police coming into my house and asking in a confused way ‘hey what’s going on here?’ I told them that I was holding a crafts and art show. The policemen got excited and asked if they could use my kitchen telephone to call their wives to come and shop as well.”

Another heartwarming story that Richter shared was one about an older woman in her 70s who had been terminally ill for quite some time. She used to love coming to the Sugar Plum Festival, but had missed several of the events due to her illness. She would collect the Sugar Plum Festival postcards for the events, and would keep them next to her bed, vowing that one day she would be healed, and she would attend the festival again.

She used the cards as motivation to keep going on with her life. Eventually, her prayers came true and she recovered. She was fully healed and got to achieve her dream of attending the Sugar Plum Festival  once more.

Not only has the Sugar Plum Festival been a blessing to the customers of the event, but it has also been a launching pad to many of the vendors who participate in the festivities as well. Kathy Snell is the owner and CEO of a business called Family Trees Unlimited, and has gained much success at the Sugar Plum events.

“I first started my crafting and artwork in 1984, and I first made my Sugar Plum debut in 1987,” states Snell. “I went to get my fine arts  and merchandising and selling degrees from Fullerton Junior College in 1972. I specialized in hands on work like clay sculpting and sowing. After college I decided to take my skills to the Sugar Plum [Festival] where I started focusing more on creating family tree pieces, as well as necklaces, and family ornaments.”

When asked about what up and coming crafters and artists can do to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams, and possibly enter their work into the Sugar Plum Festival, Snell said it’s all about believing in yourself.

“As a crafter and artist, you should always follow your dreams,” Snell said. “Make sure that you go to college and take many business and accounting classes, and always remember to work hard. As far as the Sugar Plum Festival goes, it is the most creative, and inspiring show that you could ever find. It is all about heart and soul, and it is the best place for collectors to find unique and cherished items.”

Lisa and Suzanne Ramirez can concur with Snell’s statements. Both Lisa and Suzanne have come all the way from Norwalk to experience the essence of the Sugar Plum Festival, for that specific reason. “We have been coming for the past several years that it has been at the Buena Park Mall,” says Lisa. “We both like to cook and experiment with new recipes.”  Suzanne and Lisa come to the Sugar Plum Festival for educational purposes, and to gain new ideas that they can use in their own kitchens at meal time.

“We get all of our recipes, powders, and spices from the festival,” states Suzanne. “We like working with new kinds of seasonings and flavors for chicken.” Suzanne and Lisa also love coffee and tea at the booth titled ‘Lisa’s Coffee’ within the Sugar Plum Festival. Both ladies recommend the festival to any tourists who are new to the town, and ask that they all give it a shot and check it out. “There are lots of great ideas you should try here.”

Despite America’s current financial and economic standing, Richter and the Sugar Plum Festival family of vendors all remain strong, resilient, poised, and unshaken when it comes to bringing back the true revolutionary spirit that made this country so great in its beginning.

“You will never find anything that compares to the Sugar Plum Festival’s essence of nostalgia and classic slice of Americana,” explains Richter. “It is Orange County’s best kept secret.”

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