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Alexandria Holiday Arts and Crafters Tour features 7 locations, more than 30 crafters

It's the 38th annual event, a regional draw that coincides with the hunting opener. It will take place Nov. 3-5.

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Mother Barb Golden and daughter, Heidi Beckendorf, will host one of the open houses on the Holiday Arts and Crafters Tour that runs Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 3-5. Here they stand with a sample of the holiday decor and gifts they've made. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)
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ALEXANDRIA — Mother-daughter team Barb Golden of Alexandria and Heidi Beckendorf of Blaine know their gnomes.
The snub-nosed cuties with the long beards and peaked hats are a top seller at their house during Alexandria's annual Holiday Arts and Crafters Tour.
"They're probably so ugly they're cute. All they are is a beard and a nose," Golden said.
This year's tour will feature seven locations and more than 30 crafters. It's the 38th annual event, a regional draw that coincides with the hunting opener.
Golden and Beckendorf started making the gnomes last year after Golden started noticing gnomes in all the boutiques she visited. She suggested to her daughter that they make gnomes for the crafters tour, and Beckendorf ended up making 150. They all sold.
"She goes like a house afire when she gets an idea," Golden said.
This year, Golden made a bunch too. They have gnomes representing sports teams, including the Vikings, Twins, NDSU, and the Minnesota Wild. They also make gnomes from recycled boards, wine bottles and fabric. In Scandinavia, gnomes have become associated with the Christmas season.
"They're fun and they just have personalities," she said.
The pair used to run the Golden Giraffe in downtown Alexandria, where they sold refurbished furniture.
"We've always had this creative streak," Beckendorf said. "We both still have these creative juices flowing."
Golden is retired, while Beckendorf is a public school athletic director.
Besides the gnomes, they will sell Christmas boxes that hold greenery and signs, Christmas napkins, wristlets, and chapstick holders. They'll also be joined by crafter Tammy Bilyk of Andover, a long-time friend who makes koozies.

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One of the many gnomes available for purchase on the Holiday Arts and Crafters Tour, which starts Thursday, Nov. 3. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

Mother and daughter devote much of September and October on making goods for the crafters tour.
To find materials new and used, Golden and Beckendorf scour yard sales, end-of-season sales at craft stores, and curb sides. Sometimes owners of fallen barns tell them to take all the barn wood they want. Their thriftiness translates into modest prices on everything they sell, with nothing over $50. Gnomes cost from $10-$12 and decorative boards are priced from $8-$20.
"Yes we put a lot of time into it and they're beautiful but we'd rather sell 50 than two," Beckendorf said.
"I'm not here to set up a booth and have people walk by and say, 'You make lovely things, thank you,' and take it all home," Golden said.

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One of many items created by crafters Barb Golden of Alexandria and Heidi Beckendorft of Blaine that will be for sale during the 2022 Holiday Arts and Crafters Tour in Alexandria. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

Low prices are a theme organizers want to emphasize during a time of steep inflation, when many shoppers are extra cost-conscious.
If you want to own something made by this mother-daughter team, take note: They say this will be their last year on the tour. Golden is well past retirement age and says it's time for a break.

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Christmas-themed napkins are among the items created by crafters Heidi Beckendorf and Barb Golden, who will host one of the homes on this year's crafter's tour in Alexandria. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

If you go: 

What: 38th annual Holiday Arts and Crafters Tour. Seven local locations including homes open to the public, selling locally-made, juried arts and crafts. Most locations include multiple artisans.

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When: Thursday, Nov. 3, 4-8 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 4, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Saturday, Nov. 5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: Watch for signs leading to these addresses in and nearby Alexandria:

  • Legacy of the Lakes Boat House, just west of 3rd and Broadway (Soy candles, pottery, soaps, wooden games and bowls, raw honey, photography, mittens, fabric creations, maple syrup, and more.)
  • 101 Three Havens Drive. (Includes watercolors, prints, journals, sketch books, cards, fine art, custom stained art and furniture.)
  • 4365 County Road 82 NW. (Pottery, jewelry, pencil bowls, lazy susans, charcuterie boards, paintings, angora yarn, knitted products, and more.)
  • 2804 The Narrows Drive NW. (Includes minky blankets, pillows, towels, bandanas, soaps, bath bombs, creative crocheted hats.)
  • 5601 County Road 21 SW. (Oil paintings, jewelry, Ukrainian eggs, wreaths, pottery, fiber art, mittens, baby slippers, and more.)
  • 3553 Crystal Louis NW, Garfield. (Includes Christmas pots and decor, wood signs, headbands, gnomes, sewn and quilted gifts.)
  • 507 Holmes Ave., Brandon. (Slab wood tables and benches, cutting boards, bowls, and more.)
Reporter Karen Tolkkinen grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a journalism degree in 1994, and was driven by curiosity to work her way around the United States.
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