Bennington Top-Ranked in Arts Vibrancy Index

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Bennington, Vermont: Quaint Vermont village, historical hot-spot, and top-ranked in National Center for Arts Research Arts Vibrancy Index! The recently published  NCAR Arts Vibrancy Index: Hotbeds of America’s Arts and Culture includes Bennington in the top 20 Arts Vibrant Medium and Small Cities, even ranking higher than its more well-known artsy neighbor to the North, Burlington VT. “Bennington, VT is home to a diverse population of visual artists who are community oriented and take part in public art projects, individual showings and non-profit events,” the article reports.”Visual artists, film makers, and musicians are drawn to the area.”

Craftproducers is proud to be a part of this community of Artists, Artisans, and Arts Supporters with our Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival.

A gorgeous day in Bennington, Vermont

A gorgeous day at the Art and Craft Festival in Bennington, Vermont

A New Year of Great Art and Craft Festivals!

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Happy New Year! At Craftproducers we are looking forward to a new year of successful and enjoyable Festivals. We have great things in store for 2015!

We begin the year with the Crafts Pavilion at the New England Home Shows in Boston and Foxborough, MA. These extremely popular home shows are augmented by the addition of a dedicated handmade art and craft section organized by Craftproducers. Fine art, clothing, fine furniture, and more will be on display. These shows are coming up quickly – Boston in February and Foxborough in March! You can find out more about the New England Home Shows here, and even buy tickets in advance.

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Craftproducers own fine Art and Craft Festivals begin June 19-21 in Saratoga Springs, NY with the Saratoga Balloon and Craft Festival. This is the second anniversary of this Festival which features over 150 fine art and craft Exhibitors set up in soaring Camelot tents. Specialty foods, food and beverages to eat on site (including beer and wine!), and live music create an exciting and festive atmosphere, and then of course there are the balloons! Hot air balloons will be launched each morning and evening (weather allowing – high winds can be dangerous and we are all about safety at the SBCF!) and tickets for this once in a lifetime experience can be purchased prior to the show at www.balloonandcraft.com. On Saturday and Sunday evenings the Festival will be open late for the magical Balloon Glow – over 15 tethered hot air balloons lit from within, with live music and concessions. Don’t miss it!

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Next up is the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival, July 31- August 2, a southern Vermont summer tradition that was moved from Manchester to Bennington three years ago. Bennington has proven a delightful home for the Festival, with a supportive arts community and easy access for visitors from the surrounding areas including Albany, Saratoga Springs and northern Massachusetts. Come meet and purchase fine handcrafted items from over 150 Exhibitors, enjoy great food and live music, and then explore lovely and historic Bennington, Vermont. This weekend kicks off the newly formed Bennington Art Week.

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Moving into Autumn, we have the 27th Annual Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival, October 2-4 in Manchester, Vermont. Surrounded by the green mountains with their flaming orange and gold foliage, the setting is nearly as impressive as the art and craftwork within the tents. The Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival is an institution in southern Vermont. Formerly known as the Hildene Festival, the name and location have changed along the way but the quality and production of the Festival remain top-notch. Around 200 Exhibitors include fine art, furniture, clothing, jewelry, sculpture, photography, wood products, and more and many Exhibitors demonstrate their craft techniques in their booths. A separate tent is home to a selection of Specialty Food Exhibitors – jams and jellies, maple syrup, salsas, and locally distilled spirits and liqueurs. Head over to the Dining Tent when you need a break, sit down with a plate of great food and a glass of beer or wine, and enjoy live music until you are ready to shop once more!

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The Stowe Foliage Arts Festival is our northern Vermont equivalent to the Manchester show. Taking place the following weekend – October 9-11 – just outside the quaint village of Stowe, this Festival is usually right at the peak of the Vermont foliage color. Stowe is a destination year round, but if you want to experience a Vermont Autumn this is the time and place. 200 Exhibitors, Specialty Foods, craft demonstrations, great food and beverages, live music and entertainment combine to make this a not to be missed family weekend event. The Festival takes place at the Stowe Events Field, which is located on the Stowe Bike Path for easy access from the village and on up into the resort and mountains.

October Art and Craft Festival in Manchester Vermont

We end the 2015 Festival season with a brand new show! The First Ever Queen City Art and Craft Show in Manchester, New Hampshire will take place October 30-November 1. We look forward to sharing more details about this exciting new adventure soon!

Vermont Art and Craft Festivals and Events

We are beginning a new year with unlimited potential and we plan to make the most of it. We look forward to seeing you at our 2015 Fine Art and Craft Festivals!

Bennington is Back!

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Southern VT Art & Craft Festival, August 1-3 at Camelot Village in Bennington VT

Bring your friends, bring your kids, bring your parents! The Southern Vermont Art & Craft Festival is back August 1-3 at Camelot Village in Bennington, VT!

With 150 art, craft, and specialty food Exhibitors, this festival is a shoppers paradise. Live music, comic juggling, great food, beer, wine, craft demonstrations, and the Kid Zone children’s area provide entertainment for all.

Visit the Southern Vermont Art & Craft Festival page for details about the weekend, and head over to Artist Listings to see who is coming. Then plan out your weekend adventure in picturesque Bennington. We’ll see you there!

Art and Cynthia Baird

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Art and Cynthia Baird are a husband and wife exhibiting team who travel to festivals and fairs together during the summer and autumn months and sell their handcrafted creations. Art is a potter, working from his studio in an antique barn behind the couple’s 1870’s home in the Adirondacks. Cynthia is a weaver, creating beautiful handwoven scarves and table textiles.

Art and Cynthia Baird

“The sights, textures, and rhythms of the natural world in our garden, in the woods near our house, and in the Adirondack wilderness shape the way I think about my work,” says Art. “I find insights in design, glazing, and surface decoration from Japanese folk pottery, the major influence on my work, and from 19th century American salt glazed pottery.” He mixes his own clay and glazes, believing “that mastery of every aspect of ceramics from raw materials to finished pieces is essential to being a potter.”

Read more about Art’s approach to his work and the couple’s history at www.artbaird.com. And be sure to stop by their booth at the Saratoga Balloon and Art Festival!

Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival Back Again in Bennington

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After a rousing success in 2013, the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival is returning to Camelot Village in Bennington August 1, 2, & 3. 150 artists and artisans will display and sell their own handcrafted creations. The exhibitors will be housed in Camelot tents. In addition to the arts and crafts, there will be a Kids Zone, a food court, music, comic juggling, and Vermont Craft Beers.

Bennington was without a major craft show since the American Crafts Council departed Mount Anthony High School in 1972. In 2013 Craftproducers brought its famous Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival to Bennington. This event had been held at Hildene in Manchester for nearly 30 years. When Hildene announced that its Meadows would be converted into agricultural pasture land, Craftproducers was left without a venue for its summer show as well as the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival. As Necessity is often the Mother of Invention, Craftproducers listened to the overtures of the Bennington community and decided to move the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival there. Craftproducers Fall Manchester event was successfully moved to The Practice Tee at Riley Rink in 2013.

Now in its second year in Bennington, word has gotten out among the artists and artisans. ‘Bennington is back!” Seemingly, memories of the former craft show in Bennington were vividly alive. After 30 years the craft community still remembered the original craft market. The public came out in droves and avidly bought an abundance of craftworks. With such stellar sales, the grapevine spread the news. This year applications came in at a much higher rate so there will be more exhibitors and the quality of craftwork will be improved.

The show is hosted at Camelot Village, home of the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival. Camelot Village is worth a visit on its own. It is a sprawling multi-leveled barn full of antiques, collectibles, and furniture. The Festival is located on their lawns and pathways. There is a lovely food court under the shade of tall maple trees where picnic tables are available too.  A dining tent with tables and chairs provides shelter for eating lunch and listening to the live music. There is a different musical act daily: Saints and Liars on Friday, Bob Stannard and Those Dangerous Bluesmen on Saturday, and The Bondville Boys on Sunday. Comic juggler Jason Pipitone will provide the laughs with daily intermittent shows.

What’s a Festival without great food? This one will deliver delicious choices: wood over pizza, falafel, chicken wraps, vegetarian curry, steak sandwiches, Chinese dumplings, sesame noodles, Greek salad, sausage, pepper, and onion sandwiches, French fries, espresso and lattes, lemonade, ice cream, hamburgers and hot dogs, and kettle corn.

The Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival will be held August 1, 2, and 3 at Camelot Village, 66 Colgate Heights, on route 9, a little over  a mile west of the Intersection of routes 7 and 9 in downtown Bennington. The Festival is open 10-5 on Friday and Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday. Adult admission is $8 and children are free. Rain or shine- under tents. No dogs, please. For more information, visit www.craftproducers.com/festivals/southern-vermont-art-craft-festival.

Bennington Plays Pivotal Role in Crafts History

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Late in the 1960’s, The Northeast Regional Assembly of the American Crafts Council moved its flagship enterprise, the Northeast Regional Craft Fair to Bennington.  Their initial show was held in Stowe, VT and was called “Confrontation.” Seemingly everything in the sixties was a confrontation: civil rights marches, peace parades, multiple murders of political leaders (two Kennedys, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King). This was the era women went braless and people openly smoked “grass” in the streets. There were revolutions worldwide, from Paris to New York City, Peking to Tokyo, the world was in a tumultuous uproar. The Beatles, The Stones, and Bob Dylan all crooned “the times are a changin” fueled by anti-Vietnam war fever and abundant LSD at universities.

Even the prim and proper American Craftsmen’s Council felt the reverberations; in 1969, they changed their name to “American Crafts Council” so as to provide a bigger umbrella. That same year, the Crafts Council moved their “Confrontation” to Bennington and called it a much more commercially viable “The Northeast Regional Craft Fair.” The venue was Mount Anthony High School. Inside the lobby and the gym, down the corridors, craft booths were arranged in rows. These were the “chosen few,” the elite craft designers, many of whom were teachers at universities and famous craft schools like Penland in North Carolina and the Rhode Island School of Design in Rhode Island. While their craftwork was cutting edge contemporary, these artisans were sartorially sedate.

Outside on the playing fields of the high school, the dress code was noticeably different. There were hundreds of craft exhibitors, all arranged loosely in rows, up and down the grassy field. Some had pop up tents and tepees, others built structures from wood, metal, cardboard, and plastic.  Meanwhile, many craft booths were set up on blankets, with wares strewn casually here and there. Many of the exhibitors played guitars, nursed babies, and sipped wine or beer. While the scene was representative of many public gatherings in the late sixties, the craftwork displayed and sold was of very high caliber, even in this outdoor crafts bazaar component of the Craft Fair.

As is the case to the present day, craft festivals were vital markets for the craftspeople. At this show, there was a Wholesale Day— a day when only buyers from shops and galleries were allowed entry. This was Thursday when the buyers ordered products for future delivery to their stores. (In the early years, many of the larger craft shows had a “wholesale day, only for buyers.” The first wholesale only craft shows began in the 1980’s and these events were limited to bona fide, documented owners and buyers representing businesses; the general public was not allowed.

Back then the real money was transacted Friday through Sunday when the crowds swelled to more than 5,000 on any given day. Craft sales were brisk. The traffic gridlocks were memorable as Mount Anthony High School was not designed to accommodate a large influx of automobiles. Getting onto and off Route 7 created major congestion, even at the traffic light at the four corners, patience was stretched. However, hotels and restaurants were jammed packed for the weekend and the show contributed mightily to the local economy.  This was the beginning of an era which lasted up to the naughts of the new millennium. 72,000,000 million baby boomers arrived, seemingly out of now where. They craved “cool” things. They went to craft shows to buy: decorative objects for their homes and offices, personal adornments like jewelry and clothing, functional crafts for the kitchen and dining, sculpture for the garden and patio, and unique gifts for friends and family. Their thirst for craftwork has diminished recently as the boomers hit 6o. They no longer needed “stuff” for their homes as they were now downsizing. Their replacements, Generation X, were only 17,000,000. So, suddenly there were 55,000,000 fewer shoppers. As the 70,000,000 million Gen Y mature, graduate from college, get jobs, and have families there will be a resurgence in retailing.  This augurs well for handmade craft work as this generation is predisposed to buying local foods and products.  When the ACC Northeast Craft Fair outgrew the Bennington location and left for the spacious Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY, many Vermont artisans felt there was a void to be filled. In 1973 four intrepid and visionary Vermonters formed an organization called “Craftproducers,” the very same organization that is bringing back the craft fair to Bennington in 2013. (The founders of Craftproducers were Riki Moss, potter; Bob Burnell, The Stone Soldier, potter; John McCloud, woodworker; and, Charley Dooley, candle maker. Ever since, Dooley has been producing art and craft festival for 40 years.)

So, 40 years later, the craft show has returned to Bennington:

The 35th Annual Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival, August 2, 3, & 4 at Camelot Village, a mile west of Town on Route 9. The show was initially held in Manchester at the recreation area before it moved to Hildene meadows in 1984. It was a huge success, especially in the 1990’s when Stratton held the men’s tennis tournaments and later the LPGA golf tournament. Today Hildene no longer wants to be an event venue, rather an agricultural tourist destination. Their decision led Craftproducers to seek a new home for the craft show.

The organizers of the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival are pleased with the enthusiastic welcome from the Bennington community. Current Craftproducers Owner, Tim Cianciola, says, “I am blown away by the friendly welcome and strong support from everyone in Bennington. I think we may be starting a new tradition.” The Vermont Arts Exchange, the Bennington Museum, the Bennington Chamber of Commerce, Hawkins House Craftsmarket, Bennington Potters, Better Bennington Corporation, Fiddlehead at Four Corners Gallery, and others are actively involved in planning for the Festival. Together with the Bennington Banner and these local groups, Craftproducers is coordinating a town wide Bennington Arts Weekend. Details will be published on the website www.craftrproducers.com about the individual activities of each arts participant. For example, the Bennington Museum will have a craft related installation in the Decorative Arts gallery. It will also stay open later on Friday as it is also “First Friday” in Bennington. For details about First Friday events, visit www.betterbennington.com.  The actual Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival will take place Friday through Sunday, August 2-4, at Camelot Village, the home of the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival. The hours are Friday and Saturday 10-5 and on Sunday 10-4. 140 juried artists, artisans, and specialty food makers will present their handmade works. Many of the exhibitors will be housed under brilliantly white Camelot tents while others will line up under their own canopies.  Live music will be played all weekend in the food court. Localvore caterers will serve organic wood fired pizzas, lobster rolls, grass fed burgers, sausages, sweet and savory waffles and crepes, sesame noodles, dumplings, salads, crispy tofu, local ice cream, Green Mountain Coffee, and more. Vermont Craft Beers and summer wines will be served in the Wine and Beer Café Tent. There are lovely shade trees on the property to afford delightful summer al fresco lunching.

The Vermont Arts Exchange will have its Arts Bus at the site providing kids activities and Thomas the Train will be there to ferry the small children here and there. All in all, The Festival promises to be fun as well as “the” place to shop for contemporary craftwork. And, it is just a few steps down the road to the Bennington Museum; check www.benningtonmuseum.org for what’s happening that weekend. It’s well worth a visit after or before the craft show.

This article originally appeared in “This is Vermont: Guide to the Shires of Vermont”, Summer 2013 edition. PDF here.