By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The Sami Show, hosted by Sami Show Marketplace, took place Friday, Nov. 24 and Saturday, Nov. 25, at the Bell County Expo Center. This family owned and operated business has been hosting Sami Shows since 1975. The entry fee was $6, a dollar off for military personnel, and children 12 and under were free. Individuals on the Sami Show email list received a $1 off coupon via email for the show.
Sammie Dwyer of Austin is the self-described “chief cook and bottle washer” and the brains behind the Sami Show.
“I graduated from Our Lady of the Lake in San Antonio with a degree in Accounting and met my husband there when he was going through pilot training with the Air Force,” explained Dwyer. “When he retired from the Air Force, we moved to Austin, and I used to participate as a vendor in a few craft shows. I quickly realized that I could do a better job organizing a show and taking care of the vendors, so I started the first Sami Show in Austin, in 1975. When they build the Expo Center, we brought our show here. Vendors come from all over to participate in this show. We have done about 13 shows so far this year – between Belton, Taylor, and Bastrop. In every booth, there is a story. These shows are about the vendors and their incredible talent.”
Twenty-one year old Mallory Roper, of Rockport, started the Leaf Cutter Candle Company in February. Her parents were manning a booth at the Sami Show this weekend, while she handled a commitment at another craft show elsewhere.
“My daughter loves candles and was frustrated with how quickly the smell would be gone, and decided that she could make candles herself,” explained Jamie Roper, Mallory’s father. “She watched videos and read a lot, and taught herself how to make these candles. Now, this is a family business and we are all invested in the success of it. We have been making candles in our home and had plans to expand into a workshop out back when Hurricane Harvey hit. A tree in our neighbor’s yard fell during the storm and damaged the workshop. We are in the process of rebuilding. We are a family who made it through the storm, and we are trying to make the best of things. Our company has grown exponentially since February, and we are excited to see what the future holds.”
Leaf Cutter Candle Company currently has three different sized candles and about 70 different scents. They also make wax melts and car fresheners. Their hand-poured candles are 100 percent soy with a wooden wick that shows the burning down and makes a crackling sound as it burns. The Roper family can be reached through their Leaf Cutter Candles Facebook page, or online at www.leafcuttercandles.com.
Another vendor with a unique story is Peter Blennert, of St. Charles, Ill. He and his wife are “Winter Texans” – they spend their summers in Illinois and their winters at South Padre Island.
“My wife and I are computer nerds, and we both lost our jobs shortly after 9-11. Work was difficult to find, and I started making my beef jerky, and launched my company “World’s Best Beef Jerky,” in 2002. I used Angus roast to make the jerky, and there are eight different flavors. All of our jerkies are made without artificial fillers, preservatives, and MSG,” explained Blennert. “Until this year, we have been super busy – doing about 50 weekend shows each year. We have cut back some and are spending about six weeks here in Belton. We have an RV, and we are staying at the RV park. My wife and I love Belton and enjoy the downtown area a lot.”
The “World’s Best Beef Jerky” is made in a small plant in Illinois and is sold in 4-ounce packages. More information and online ordering can be found at http://www.petesjerky.com. Peter’s wife runs an adjacent booth called “Bangles and Blades” featuring knives, rings, and other collectibles.
Hundreds of people attended the Sami Show this weekend and mingled among the over 100 vendors. Shopping at the Sami Show is a family affair for Karen Cathey, of Elgin.
“I am here with my mom, my daughter, and my grandchildren – there are four generations of us here today! We are avid Sami Show shoppers and typically attend four or five of them each year,” remarked Cathey. “Today I’m shopping for yard decorations and handmade things. We love taking family trips to Sami Shows!”
Sami Show founder Sammie Dwyer credits the vendors and their talent for the ongoing success of the shows.
“The interactions with all the people and the talent is what makes these shows so amazing,” said Dwyer.
For more information on how to become a vendor and a complete list of upcoming Sami Shows, visit www.samishow.com.