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Horace woman manages some of area's largest craft shows

Connie Bruse shows off a holday sled creation from her home in Horace. David Samson / The Forum1 / 3
Scrabble sayings are popular gifts made by Connie Bruse of Horace. David Samson / The Forum2 / 3
Refurbished kerosene lamps are made into holiday decorations by Connie Bruse. David Samson / The Forum3 / 3

HORACE, N.D.—Pumpkins, apples and football are all markers of the fall season, but for crafter Connie Bruse, fall is the season to show off her year-round hard work as well as that of master crafters from around the area.

Bruse organizes a number of upcoming craft and vendor shows that mark the holiday show schedule, including the popular Horace Fall Festival, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Horace Senior Center.

The Horace Show will have 26 crafters, vendors and artists selling their wares.

The Fall Festival is open to crafters and direct sellers, which Bruse only started allowing about five years ago. While she fills the senior center, each year she continues to have a waitlist of about 100 vendors hoping to join the Horace festival.

Bruse usually hosts a second Horace show, a winter extravaganza, around February.

Bruse has been selling crafts for nearly 25 years, but she started creating her own crafts and art as a child. The Kansas City-born Bruse moved to Bowbells, N.D., while in high school. Never one to have idle hands or mind, her mother offered her some craft work to keep her busy. She began working on quilts and eventually became a master quilter. She now adds abstract fiber artist and chalk paint artist and teacher to her resume. As a show organizer, Bruse contracts some of the largest craft shows in the metro area.

"I'm 54 years old, but I have the energy of a 23-year-old most of the time," Bruse said. "I still haul all my crap to the shows and set it up myself. My husband [Kevin] and son, [Travis] do help now and then."

A University of North Dakota graduate, Bruse continues to work one day a week as a nurse.

Each year, Bruse opens her own holiday boutique and open house at her farm in Horace, which she will host the weekend of Oct. 27-28. Bruse also spearheads the Prairie Boutique, which is held at Living Waters Lutheran Church in Fargo.

"We rent the church for a very high-end boutique, but we mix it all up and it's not just booths," Bruse said. "People wait in line to get in and get out, so it's huge."

Bruse passed on her love of creating to her daughter, Nicole Steele, who lives in Garrison, N.D., and operates her own business as a consultant for Chalky and Company.

In 2016, Bruse started teaching Chalky Paint Workshops after learning from her daughter. Chalk paint can been used to create new crafts or revamp and reuse nearly any material.

"I do three a week now, private and public. They are a blast," Bruse said.

Bruse said she enjoys passing along outlets for creativity to anyone who wants to learn.

Bruse can be found on Facebook at Inspired Designs by Connie Bruse or The Chalky Artist.

Upcoming events Bruse will host or sell at include:

Oct. 14: Horace Fall Festival Senior Center

Oct. 27-28: 20th annual Holiday Boutique 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Bruse Farm, 4293 168th Ave SE Horace ND

Nov. 4: 36th annual Prairie Boutique. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Living Waters Lutheran Church, Fargo

Nov 17-19: Pride of Dakota Fargo at Scheels Arena

Nov 24-26: Dickens Village, Garrison, N.D.

Dec 1-3: Pride of Dakota, Bismarck N.D.

Dec 9: Chalky & Company Extravaganza, Bruse Farm

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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