First time crafts show draws some crowds

October 30, 2016 GMT

GREENWICH — After lunch with her father, Carol Wallace, of the town’s Glenville section, came to the New England Crafts Show in Old Greenwich to browse the three aisles of household goods, knickknacks and other creations by New England craftspeople.

She quickly picked out a custom-made stackable bracelet with a purple, amethyst-type stone and bought it. Wallace said she looks forward to local crafts shows and supporting artisans who make handmade jewelry and gifts.

“I really look for when shows come here to town,” she said. “I’ll buy something if it catches my eye.”

A steady trickle of shoppers came to the first ever New England Craft Show at the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center Sunday, which included vendors from Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts selling housewares, artisanal food, music, and other goods.

As of 1 p.m., Patricia Kalinowski, who promotes more than a dozen crafts shows in New England a year and hails from Baldwinsville, Mass., said the turnout for the show had been low. The event ran from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“What we’re trying to do is bring the crafts to the community so craftspeople can be supported and people will buy from them,” Kalinowski said. “Greenwich is a nice little country town so that’s why we came here.”

At the show, Paul Adrian Hunter of Simsbury and his wife Georgene Summer sold a knickknack he invented called Bugz — ornamental dragonflies, butterflies and other insects with tri-colored bodies for $5.

Hunter, who lives in Northfield and grew up in England, first designed an early version of the plastic bugs affixed to suction cups as a young engineer as a potential knickknack for sale. He began manufacturing them in 1997 in Capetown, South Africa as a way to give Zulu construction workers his real estate firm was laying off new work.

“I felt like if I laid them off they would starve within a week,” said the 64-year-old Hunter.

Fern Michonski, a children’s musician and music and early childhood movement teacher in Simsbury, peddled several of her albums including “Kids! Christmas! Fern!” along with brand new Halloween downloads called “Bone Diggy Boo” and “The Hobgoblin’s Halloween Sale.”

During the fall, Michonski makes the rounds of regional crafts fairs, but during the week she teaches music programs at preschools and gives piano lessons to students in the Farmington Valley.

“I’m still a teacher from Monday to Friday at different preschools, but this is what I do for a craft,” Michonski said. “All of my albums are based around themes so I will talk between songs to children to emphasize them.”

At the fair, Norwalk neighbors Carol Dalessandro, 70 and Barbara Vlach, 67 extolled the virtues of finding unique gifts at crafts fair and appreciating quality.

“I like things that people make themselves,” Vlach said.

Dalessandro bought several jars of pumpkin, orange marmalade and cranapple jam from Sandy Hunt, the proprietor of the Vermont Gourmet Candy Dish in Vermont.

Hunt,70, travels about 48 weekends a year around New England to different farmer’s markets and fairs selling jams as well as hot pepper jellies, and chocolate and caramel sauces.

“This is what I do for a living,” Hunt said. “On the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, I’m back working.”

Hunt often travels with her fellow Vermonter, Jane Parent, 64, who sells farm-made cheeses, jars of pickled vegetables and other homemade foods, typically for $8 to $10 a unit.

“Some people want a relationship with their food and want to know a lot about it,” said Parent. “If we don’t have farms that will take the time it takes for quality we’ll lose that.”

For more information about Kalinowski’s upcoming shows, visit https://www.facebook.com/NewEnglandCraftShows.