The deer season opener inspires all kinds of hunting.

According to Leslie Mullin of Lakeville, it's also the event that "kind of kicks off the craft season." The men go off to hunt, she says, and the "hunting widows" get busy browsing around -- and selling their own wares-- at holiday craft shows.

Mullin helped organize the Kenwood Trail Middle School Craft Show in Lakeville about five years ago. She and her neighbor, jewelry designer Janelle Madson, had been lamenting the lack of a good craft sale in their area. They decided to start one of their own.

The first year of the sale, she thought about 30 vendors would sign up. They ended up with 100.

"There are so many people who do it part time in addition to their regular profession," she says. "We were really excited that it was such a big hit."

It's also a hit, Mullin says, for the school, which sells homemade chocolate chip cookies and used books at the event. "It's a great school fundraiser because it's not asking for the parents to dig into their pockets again," she says.

Upcoming shows

Coinciding with the opening of firearm deer-hunting season on the first weekend of November, the Glendale United Methodist Church in Savage hosts a sale with merchandise by Ten Thousand Villages, a fair-trade organization. It also sells fair-trade coffee, tea and chocolates.

Coordinator Barbara Taylor says 10 percent of the proceeds go to the church, mostly for the church website, and the rest go to benefit various national and international relief projects. "It's to encourage people to give with a purpose," she says. "It's like giving twice."

The same weekend, at the Friendship Lodge in Northfield, the Three Links Care Center also hosts an annual holiday harvest bazaar, with a Scandinavian bakeshop featuring lefse and krumkake and vendors selling handmade candies, jams and jellies, and homemade sauerkraut. They open their popular room of "rare rummage" and serve Swedish meatballs for lunch.

A mammoth arts and crafts event happens the second weekend in November, when Canterbury Park hosts its Autumn Festival. The 500-vendor event -- with everything handmade -- draws about 25,000 people annually, organizers say.

Heidi Keyho, community relations coordinator for the Minnesota School of Business, says the school scheduled its arts, crafts and small business fair at the Shakopee Town Square Mall for the same weekend to capitalize on some of the visiting craft fans.

The South Metro Dance Academy holds its Women's Day Out on Nov. 14. Coordinator Lesley Cornelisen of Lakeville says the group started the holiday sale last year. Its goal, she says, was to have an event far enough from the holidays that it wouldn't compete with other holiday events.

"We were thrilled," she says. "We'd never done anything like this before, and it went really well." The event hosts about 30 vendors.

Kenwood Trail's sale happens on Nov. 20. "We have a really good variety for people to choose from," says Mullin. "We've got a gal who does these incredible aprons that look vintage. Her work is beautiful. They're so cute."

Also on Nov. 20, the Friendship Shakopee MOPS group holds its holiday bazaar, and proceeds help them pay for speakers, activities, and outreach to the community.

"We needed a big fundraiser because our child-care cost is so significant," says organizer Jenni Runyan. "It makes a big impact on lots of lives."

Liz Rolfsmeier is a Minneapolis freelance writer.