85 years of being crafty! Annual League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair, Aug. 4-12 at Mount Sunapee Resort

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Garry Kalajian conducts a blacksmithing demonstration. Courtesy Photo

CONCORD, NH  – Dazzling displays of exceptional fine craft by talented artisans, outstanding exhibits, and numerous demonstrations and hands-on workshops await visitors at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s 85th Annual Craftsmen’s Fair, held over nine days, Saturday, August 4, through Sunday, August 12, at beautiful Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury, NH.

The state’s premier summertime event – considered one of the country’s top fine craft fairs – is expected to draw more than 25,000 visitors who come to browse and shop for quality, one-of-a-kind craft. Visitors can meet the makers, watch craft demonstrations, participate in make-and-take workshops and find ideas for using fine craft in everyday life. Live music by favorite New England artists adds to the festive fair atmosphere, along with the opportunity to sip a craft beer or glass of wine and enjoy delicious food.

The juried members of the League epitomize the very best of the state’s rich craft tradition of quality, handcrafted excellence. Contemporary and traditional fine craft in all media are represented at the Fair: intricate baskets, sparkling glassware, colorful ceramics and pottery, framed prints, vibrant folk art, impeccably made furniture, intricate quilts, wearable art, such as hand-dyed silk scarves and jewelry in many styles, and much more. The Next Generation tent features the work of young craftsmen (ages 12-19) who are mentored by the League’s juried members.  

Among the featured craftsmen are three from Manchester:

  • Paul Henri Mancini (wood)
  • Gary Fecteau (wood)
  • Denise Kirk (felted bags and bowls)

Jack Dokus uses the lost wax casting process to produce his heirloom quality, one-of-a-kind jewelry. Both Chairman of the Fair Committee and a Board Trustee, he is preparing for his 41st Craftsmen’s Fair.

Richard Foye conducts a Raku demonstration. Courtesy Photo

“I’m very proud to be part of it. It’s an opportunity for me to show my whole body of work all at once,” says Dokus. One of the pleasures of the Fair, he added, is that “visitors get to meet the maker and you establish a relationship.” It’s not unusual for young girls who visit the Fair with their mothers to return to his booth years later wanting their own special piece of jewelry. One little girl told her mother, “I’m going to have this man make my ring when I get married.” Now engaged to be married, she recently commissioned Jack to do just that!

“Our 85th Fair is a milestone for us,” said Miriam Carter, Executive Director of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. “We are so grateful for our outstanding craftspeople and all of the people who have attended and supported us through the years, which has made the Fair the don’t-miss event of the summer. We are continually working to re-energize the Fair to make it more exciting and relevant for visitors of all ages. Whether you’ve been a patron for many years or this is the first time you are attending, you will be amazed by the breadth and depth of our talented members and the fine craft they create. Spending a day at the Fair truly helps you understand how fine craft enriches our lives through wearing it or bringing it into our homes.” 

The Living with Craft exhibit, pictured above, showcases the work of the League’s craftsmen, so visitors can envision how more than 200 pieces of furniture, rugs, lighting, prints and accessories could fit into their homes. Courtesy Photo

Through events like the Craftsmen’s Fair, along with its eight fine craft galleries and a broad range of year-round activities, such as travelling exhibitions, educational opportunities, and the NH Open Doors program, the League and its juried craftspeople are significant contributors to the state’s creative economy. “Locally, the Craftsmen’s Fair is a huge draw for the Lake Sunapee area, drawing thousands of people, many of whom come year after year,” said New Hampshire State Representative Dan Wolf of Newbury. “Statewide, the League showcases its 750 members and their work. It’s a segment of the economy that I think a lot of people don’t realize is there. These are not huge manufacturing concerns, but individual craftsmen with individual businesses and they are very important to New Hampshire’s overall economy, selling around the state and throughout the world.”

Fair Highlights

The Fair is held rain or shine. With the 200 craftsmen’s booths and demonstration areas enclosed within circus-sized tents, visitors will welcome the shade on hot days and be protected from the elements on rainy or drizzly days.

For a preview of what’s available in the booths and exhibits, visitors can stop by the Information tent. The League is also offering a raffle of exquisite items created by exhibiting artisans to celebrate the Fair’s 85th anniversary.

Fair attendees can explore the Fair’s three fine craft exhibitions, which showcase wearable art and fine craft for the home and garden. All pieces are available for purchase or order.

  • In the Living with Craft exhibit, professional designer Susan Savory has created vignettes showcasing the work of the League’s craftsmen, so visitors can envision how more than 200 pieces of gorgeous furniture, rugs, lighting, prints and accessories will work in their homes.
  • One-­of-­a-­kind clothing, jewelry and accessories in the CraftWear boutique, overflowing with a wide variety of art-­to-­wear pieces, such as hats, scarves and award-winning jewelry, are available for visitors to try on and purchase.
  • Visitors will discover how to incorporate fine craft with plantings in their own gardens during a stroll through the inspirational Sculpture Garden. The beautiful outdoor setting features outstanding pieces of both large and small garden art providing fair-goers with plenty of ideas to take home and try.

Daily craft workshops for adults, teens and children offer personalized instruction from master craftspeople in a friendly, relaxed setting. Visitors of all ages can learn about the science and math that craftsmen use to create their art at the Science and Math of Craft tent. At the Pottery tent, two students from the New Hampshire Institute of Art will help fairgoers throw their own pots. During the Printmaking workshop, individuals can design and print their own images.

Along with craft workshops, kids can explore Mount Sunapee’s Adventure Park and the full-day Kids Mountain Adventure Camp.

Fair attendees can learn about different craft techniques during daily demonstrations, including: traditional blacksmithing, outdoor sculpture building, fly casting and fly tying, woodworking, pottery, decoy carving, leather work, spoon carving, rug braiding and hooking, stained glass, 18th century whisk brooms, bookbinding, quilting, pewtersmithing, glass beads, polymer clay and much more. One of the League’s printmakers will demonstrate his family’s 18th century printing press!

T-shirts featuring a design by League artisan Loring Cheney will be available for purchase, along with the collectible Annual Ornament. This year’s ornament,Peace, by juried member Sibel Alpaslan, is the first Annual Ornament made from clay and features a dove taking wing over a ring and star.

Free parking is available on site. A limited number of scooters are available to rent for persons with mobility issues; call in advance to reserve.

Admission to the Fair costs $15 for adults; $13 for seniors, veterans, active duty military (with ID); and $12 per person for groups of 20 or more (advance reservations are encouraged). Children 12 and under are free. For complete Fair information, including tickets and videos showcasing League of NH Craftsmen members and their techniques, visit https://www.nhcrafts.org/annual-craftsmens-fair/.