Perryopolis vendors get ready for Christmas craft show
Boyd and Suzanne Neff of Bullskin take the team approach to preparing crafts for various shows where they exhibit their wares.
“We do this year-round,” said Suzanne Neff, 68.
Boyd Neff, 71, began woodworking while a Marine. After he came home, he helped to build a large backboard for photo displays of the Vietnam War at the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Va.
“I always enjoyed working with wood,” said Neff, a retired state trooper.
“He built our first home (in Rostraver). He’s very good at what he does,” his wife said.
As they have for more than 20 years, the couple will set up tables at the Perryopolis Flea Market on Saturday for its annual Christmas craft show.
Neff’s wooden creations range from trash cans to decorative shelf items.
“After I retired, I said ‘Let’s do a craft show.’ I needed something to do,” he said.
Neff obtained a copyright on a small wooden carousel he designed. After he gave one to a nurse when he was hospitalized years ago, he came home to 20 phone messages from people placing orders.
Neff also learned to refinish player pianos and purchased, refurbished and sold a house in Charleroi before the term “flipping” entered the lexicon of real estate.
For the Perryopolis craft show, the couple is working on decorative wooden Christmas trees, reindeer and snowmen.
Neff cuts and stains the items, and his wife decorates them.
“I also make Steelers grape vine wreaths, with a miniature helmet, Terrible Towel and football. We got orders for that at the fall show,” he said.
“I always tell people I can make you anything if you give me a picture of what you want,” Neff said.
The couple also sells its wooden creations at Greensburg’s Craftique Collections.
For more than 30 years, members of the Pirilla family have operated the Perryopolis Flea Market.
Rain or shine or snow, the market opens each Sunday year-round, often attracting vendors by the hundreds and visitors by the thousands.
“We have close to 100 vendors inside and, in nice weather, up to 150 outside. We have vendors outside year-round. We are open unless the roads are closed,” said Kathleen Pirilla Kifer.
Kifer, her sister, Pam Seydor, and brothers Brian and Leonard “Skip” Pirilla are involved with the flea market, located along Route 51.
“We definitely run it as a family,” Kifer said.
Their father, Leonard Pirilla, was an early owner of the Perryopolis Auto Auction, where sales take place each Friday.
“At one point, it was a furniture store. It caught fire, but the building remained,” Kifer said.
Her father saw an opportunity and developed the auto auction in 1964, she said.
The same site is used each Sunday for the flea market and on occasional Saturdays for craft shows.
“We’ve had Christmas craft shows since 1990,” she said.
Many of the same vendors participate in the flea market or return annually for the craft shows.
In addition to what one might typically expect to find at a flea market, the Fayette County site encourages farmers to sell produce and homemade items.
Vendors selling food or beverages, she said, are required to obtain proper licensing from the state Department of Agriculture.
In addition to the family business, Kifer, who lives in Perryopolis, is involved in her community. She recently served as chairwoman for June’s bicentennial activities in Perryopolis.
Sharon Smith, 67, and her sister, Hope Jones, 63, who live in Norvelt, sell nut rolls at the flea market each Sunday from March through December.
Sharon’s Nut Rolls will set up shop at the December craft sale.
“I also sell little stuffed cats,” Smith said.
She and her sister participate in Ligonier’s Country Market from May to October.
Before Smith retired as a caseworker with the Department of Public Welfare, a former colleague made her a nut roll after she had been ill.
“I begged her to teach me how to make it. I went to ‘nut roll school’ for eight weeks at her home,” Smith said.
After giving the treats away as gifts, she heeded a friend’s suggestion to start selling them.
Now, the sisters typically spend one night a week baking several flavors of rolls in their state-inspected home bakery.
“We pretty much have it down to a science,” Smith said.
Mary Pickels is a Trib Total Media staff writer. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.