Arts & Crafts show on Town Hall Green shines in 49th year
Gray skies yielded to blue and the sun streamed down through the trees on Fairfield's historic Town Hall Green, lighting up the neat rows of white tents and warming the crowds browsing through the wares on display Saturday for the first day of the annual Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Arts & Crafts Show.
In its 49th year, the two-day event featured more than 60 crafters offering everything from jewelry and food to fine arts and crafted items. Additional attractions include grilled foods prepared by members of the Kiwanis Club of Fairfield and a farm market set up by Zarella Farms.
Patricia Ritchie, the chamber's president and CEO, said the event's appeal is broad. "The show attracts not only Fairfield residents, but people from all adjacent towns and even out of state," she said. "It has always been held the weekend after Father's Day."
Among the notable wares on hand was the hand-carved artwork created by 90-year-old Neal Blodgett, whose Higganum-based business is Country Folk Art. "I've exhibited here for the past five years," he said. "I've been woodworking for 40. I hand carve animals and birds. Some pieces may take a couple weeks to do. People look at the work and gasp. They get so excited. People like to collect folk art, especially one-of-a-kind. Every piece is unique."
Another eye-catching display was Verne Yan's hand-embroidered artwork which, at a quick glance, appear to be watercolor paintings. "I create a pattern and then use many different strands of colored silk to make a picture come alive," the Toronto-based artist said. "I sew from the heart, which adds passion to the work. It's very different from typical embroidery, which is one-dimensional. People are amazed."
Attracting attention as well was Gene Bernardin's True Blue TC Collection of hand-dyed indigo products. "My wife is from Jiangsu Province in eastern China," he said. "Her family has been doing this for 300 years. She learned at 7. We have embraced the craft and produce our work out of our basement in Torrington. People love the deep colors and when they learn about the creative process, they are often impressed."
The wide selection of arts and crafts offered something for virtually every test.
Twins Brianna and Bethany Faiella, visiting from Massachusetts, were browsing jewelry at Elias Designs. "We're looking for summer jewelry," one of the twins said. "Rings or bracelets with sea and shell themes."
Nearby, Bridgeporter Theresa Garcia was buying a bracelet from Beads 4 Dreams, a jeweler that incorporates handmade beads from Uganda into its designs. Proceeds from the jewelry's sale benefit Kiwoko Hospital in Uganda. "I've been to Rwanda and will be going to South Africa in August," said Garcia. "I really love this style of jewelry and the connection to Africa."
Jon Findley, looking at items at Rebecca Dolber's jewelry stand, said he and his girlfriend, Evelyn Tapia, were driving through the area and saw the tents. "The weather makes it nice to walk around and browse all the beautiful arts and crafts," he said.
Considering a rough-hewn "Beach" sign with coat hooks, shown by Poverty Hollow Primitives, Fairfield beach neighborhood resident Jennifer McGowan said, "We live on the beach in a tiny beach cottage. This would be perfect as I have four children and the theme fits my home."