Annual craftsmen’s fair shows off the incredible work of local creators
Glassware in a fair booth.
The league fairgrounds.
Children trying out a tools exhibit at the fair.
Lloyd Hamovit in his studio.
Sharon Lindstrom has been sewing little dresses her whole life. However, she never really considered it an art form until she started working for the League of N.H. Craftsmen.
“I’ve been the league’s database manager for the past eight years, and so I’ve seen all the work,” she said of the various crafts that come through the annual League of N.H. Craftsmen’s Fair. “And I think that was the inspiration for me. I see all the artistry that goes into some of the garments that are made. And I don’t know, I thought, ‘Well, maybe I’ll take it up again.’ ”
Lindstrom began smocking, which is embroidering on pleats.
“I’d never really taken it to that level where it was really an art form,” she said. “So I started smocking because I really wanted to do more handwork, more creative work, and I just fell in love with it and it just kind of took off.”
It took off so much that Lindstrom became a juried member of the League earlier this year, making the 81st Annual League of N.H. Craftsmen’s Fair her first as a participant.
Lindstrom’s pieces, two embroidered dresses entitled “Tea for Two,” will be among the myriad of new and unique offerings at this year’s fair held at the Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury from Saturday to Aug. 10. As the longest-running annual crafts fair in the nation, the fair draws about 30,000 people each year and features contemporary and traditional work of 350 craftsmen, along with daily craft demonstrations, workshops and family-friendly entertainment.
“It’s a great honor to be in this organization,” said artist Lloyd Hamovit, who is juried in pottery and will be showing a variety of functional pottery with a whimsical twist. “You really do have to pass muster, so to speak, with the jury process.
“(And) It’s a closed circle of artists, the same artists who come back year after year and they really have to work hard to be in the show. . . . And so anybody who goes to the show is going to see some high-quality work and really unique work in every field of craft.”
And those looking to get the most unique picks of the lot will have their chance to get a jump on the shopping competition this year, said Susie Lowe-Stockwell, executive director of the League. For the first time this year, the League is offering a collector’s sprint. For $50, those looking to snap up a unique find can get into the fair an hour before it opens on the first day – at 9 a.m. instead of 10 a.m.
“A lot of the craftsmen have asked us to do this. They’ve seen it done at a lot of the other big shows, so we’re trying it,” Lowe-Stockwell said. “It really does give people who are special clients – or people who really want to see the brand new work first – it really does give them that opportunity. Certainly standing in line for when the horn blows at 10 o’clock with several thousand other people, you really do have to scramble if that’s your goal.”
And those who miss out on the early bird event or can’t make it during the day or weekend will have a chance to shop late this year. On Aug. 7, the fair will remain open until 8 p.m. for those who might not otherwise be able to make the fair, Lowe-Stockwell said. Admission will be $5 after 4 p.m. that day.
Another new addition to the fair will be a hands-on pottery tent, where visitors can make something of their own.
“We think it will be great for kids as well as adults to really get in there and get their hands into the clay,” Lowe-Stockwell said. “There will be several demonstrations. People really need to jump in there and try it.”
Other demonstrations throughout the week include a leather-working workshop with Grant Taylor, to learn how to cut, edge, smooth and prepare small leather items; a demonstration by wood carver Bill Schnute of how to use carving gouges and mallets to form intricately carved wooden pieces; and a session with basket maker Lynn Goldberg, who will show visitors how to make a basket from birch bark using a plaited weave and zigzag borders.
And a special guest, ceramic artist Jon Keenan, will show off his technique and give a presentation about his work and inspiration.
The fair will also have more activities geared toward children and teenagers, officials said, including woodworking. There will also be roving performances by oversized puppets, magicians, mind readers and musicians.
“I hope that people take away from the experience that it’s not only a beautiful event but one that’s supporting many businesses in New Hampshire,” Lowe-Stockwell said. “These are all individual people making a living doing this work. And so they’re supporting that as well as the nonprofit. The fair actually goes toward supporting our educational programs.”
The 81th Annual League of N.H. Craftsmen’s Fair will be open from 10 am to 5 p.m. daily, rain or shine, from Saturday through Aug. 10. Admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors, students, active duty military (with ID), and groups of 20 or more. Admission is free for children 12 and younger. A ticket includes admission to all exhibitions and demonstrations. A ticket for a second return day is available for an additional $5. Visitors who purchase their tickets in advance on the League’s website, nhcrafts.org, will receive a $1 discount, plus no convenience fee. This discount will be offered through tomorrow. Parking is free.
Picnic areas, as well as a food tent, indoor cafeterias and an outdoor Garden Café (serving adult beverages) are open daily. Only service dogs are allowed on the fairgrounds.
For information about the fair, including a full schedule of events and demonstrations, or the League of N.H. Craftsmen, call 224-3375, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the league’s website at nhcrafts.org.