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Event Recap: League of New Hampshire Craft Festival

Aug 16, 2019 11:55AM ● By Gabrielle Varela
This past weekend closed out the 87th League of NH Craftsmen Festival. A festival in Mount
Sunapee Resort where for nine days local artists and vendors travel to Mount Sunapee Resort
to showcase their crafts, teach workshops and hold special events. A shopper’s dream, festival
go-ers enjoy wandering from section to section admiring jewelry makers, basket weavers,
woodworkers, and the like, watching handcrafted goods be, well, hand-crafted. From
spoon making to soapmaking, woven baskets, pottery, and furniture, this festival offers
something for everyone.

The New Hampshire League of Craftsmen was started in the 1920s when Mary Coolidge and
A. Cooper Ballentine joined forces to promote New Hampshire crafts. The fair was organized
shortly after in 1933, making it one of the oldest outdoor crafts festivals in the country. Since,
The League has kept its mission to help crafts people hone their skills and sell their work. The
League has grown to represent over 750 juried crafts people.

Among the many artists featured at the festival were some Upper Valley heavy hitters like;
Paulette Wagner who has a studio at AVA. Meggin Dossett, who helped and created the special
ornament the League sells every year. Quechee artist Dierdre Donnelly celebrating her 20th
year showing. Carrie Cahill-Mulligan, the park ranger turned artist, from Canaan, New
Hampshire who showed off a wide variety of her felt wares.
“I’m still recovering,” says local UV artist Orin Pacht, of Orin Pacht Designs. “It was a lot. It was
sort of like a marathon.”

Pacht was juried in two years prior but was only able to find the time to man a full booth this
year. His first year started out a success, achieving the “Booth Award” for jewelry makers. The
award is based on appeal, accessibility, informativeness, and display. It is given to one
craftsmen in each category. The award puts him on a list of A-listers that get first booth choice
for future festivals.

“I feel like I’m in the big leagues now. The serious crafters of New Hampshire do this.” Says
Pacht, who was only used to smaller markets prior.
“The vibe, in general, is really uplifting. Neighboring booths were really helpful and everyone
made room for each other and looked at each other’s work. Veteran jewelry makers gave me a
lot of tips for next year which I definitely appreciated.”

The fair grounds feature over 200 booths and over 300 craftsmen, a sculpture garden, a music
tent and more. Their newest space for 2019 was the addition of the Art, Craft, and Design
Exhibition space which displayed fine crafts for the home and wearable art, a demonstration
area and a wearables boutique.

Demos included glassblowing, blacksmithing, woodworking, whisk broom making, spinning,
papermaking and more for all ages and skill levels.

In addition to the booth artists, cooperative spaces like The Shop at the Fair, operated by
members of the League featuring work by artists who do not have a booth and the retail craft
tent, Next Generation bring more of that uplifting community-base to the forefront. Next Gen is
managed by the children of the state juried league members and sponsored guests where the
kids ages ten through nineteen can make and market their own crafts like tie-dyes, marble runs,
fiddle sticks and pottery.

Each day, the music tent featured a different musical talent. Crowds gathered to hear acts like
the blue grass band High Range, “backwoods blues” player Rick Watson, The Buskers street
style jug band meets jazz, and folk singer Julie Dougherty, and Rick Watson on acoustic guitar
and harmonica.

It was a week for the books and one of the most anticipated events of the year. There was
even one unexpected but a special appearance by Sunapee local and Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler
relishing the local wares of his community and posing with forthcoming fans for pictures

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