text by Maggie Heineman, photos by Maggie and Margery Rubin
The 2014 Craft Fair will be held on December 6. Here’s a gallery of photos from the 2013 fair followed by an article about the development of the fair over the years.
Choose any thumbnail and then scroll though the gallery
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From December 2007 through 2010 the indoor event was a mixture of rummage sale, flea-market and crafts, coordinated by the Director of Development. After her retirement in 2011 our new CEO asked the residents to coordinate the event. Art Hartwig, who for years has been selling his bowls at other fairs, had a vision of a high-end Craft Fair. No more rummage sale and flea market. The new and improved “Medford Leas Holiday Craft Fair” would use only quality crafters who have all been approved by a jury. They must make everything themselves and cannot resell items made by others or purchased for resale. The continuing goal would be to set a high standard of craft so that the crafters who attend can be confident that purchases will please recipients and keep them coming back year after year.
Resident crafters are used wherever possible; however, guest crafters are invited to fill out the empty spaces. Guest crafters sign a detailed contract and pay a fee for their space, while residents do not. Conversely guest crafters keep their earnings and residents donate them to the Residents Assistance Fund. During the three years that the residents have been running the fair the amounts donated each year have increased. The attendance each year has been over 800 people; 65% to 75% are visitors.
Residents have used their talents to provide a wide variety of high quality items, such as quilts, knitted items, turned bowls, decorations, needlework, hand-made wooden tables, clocks, book-ends, candle sticks, etc. One of the more unusual items has been the creation of a set of twelve different high quality note cards. This was done via a resident jury that selected from a group of ninety photos submitted by residents. These photos varied from scenes from their travels to paintings to even the quilt hanging near the reception desk. These cards have continued to be sold each succeeding year and also via the gift shop. Over time a significant amount of money has accumulated from the sale of cards, a part of the donation to the Residents Assistance Fund.
Publicity is another task. Two weeks prior to the fair, forty three large signs (32ʺ x 34ʺ) are placed in the surrounding communities. Zoning laws require prior notification to each township well before the event. This year an event program was provided that contained a centerfold floor plan and advertisements for all the crafters. Post cards depicting the event were also added this year and were made available to residents, crafters and the public to promote the Fair. Since the beginning of the Fair, there have been public programs of various kinds held on the same day and it has not created a problem, in fact may be helping attendance. Recently the local newspapers have started to write significant human interest articles about some of the resident crafters which have been wonderful, but hard to predict or promote.