Famous Vermont Basketmaker to Demonstrate at Manchester Fall Crafts Fair

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When autumn approaches, that’s when the craft festival season begins in earnest. The 28th Annual Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival kicks off American Craft Week in Vermont. The Festival will be held September 30, October 1 & 2 at the Practice Tee on Route 7A, a mile and a half north of the roundabout in downtown Manchester, Vermont.

Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival 2016

According to organizers of American Craft Week, “While other industry associations have long touted their products, the craft industry has lacked a single way to be highly visible. Along with craft organizations across the USA, Vermont is a leader in supporting American Craft Week. American Craft Week is held 10 days in October and the hope is to educate more people about the importance of American craftsmen and women. Crafts enrich our homes, wardrobes, offices and public spaces.  The crafts industry contributes to our nation’s economy and the fabric of our national history. Craftwork is original, beautiful and enduring.”

American Craft Week 2016

Attending the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival is an opportunity to celebrate the wonders of American Craft. Every day thousands of American artists share their vision and talent by producing amazing hand-made decorative and functional pieces. Craft show patrons demonstrate their love of these items by coming to the shows, meeting the artists, and buying handmade products. As one craft artist put it, “this is the creative economy!”

The Manchester show features 150 artists and artisans displaying and selling traditional and contemporary crafts and original art, as well as a specialty food tent. While craft shopping, customers are delighted with culinary choices served by local restaurants and food trucks. The Dining Tent, which is heated, offers tables and chairs with a relaxed ambience. Vermont craft beers are served to accompany the luncheon plates. There will be live entertainment each day.

Jeffrey Gale, basketmaker, at the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival

Besides savoring Vermont food and drink, there are many craft demos. They are informative as well as entertaining. Jeffrey Gale, of Strafford, VT, will showcase his traditional basketmaking skills all three days. His baskets are made of white ash trees. He pounds the wood until it is the desired thickness and then weaves each new piece until ultimately there is a basket. He is widely collected by private individuals and Museums including the Smithsonian. Add Jonathan Woodward, a potter from Clinton, NY to the mix, with his Raku pottery demo and there  are all the necessary ingredients for a lively afternoon. This year the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester will be there offering demos of fly tying to participants through any level of fly tying-from basic to advanced. Additionally, casting instruction will be presented, ranging from beginner lessons to a specific course that teaches the nuances of casting with classic bamboo  and fiberglass rods. Why there’s even something for the kids: an interactive class tying clown flies.  

raku pottery firing demonstration from Jonathan Woodward at the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival

As part of the American Craft Week celebration in Vermont, the Vermont Craft Council is planning its Fall Open Studio Weekend on October 1 and 2. Maps will be available at the Festival so craft show patrons may also visit those studios local to Manchester. For more details about the Open Studio Weekend, visit VermontCrafts.com. Interestingly enough American Craft Week has been expanded; it’s now October 1 – 16. The Vermont Crafts Council is following suit and  has added a second weekend of “Open House”  October 8 & 9 to its Fall Studio Tour.

Once again, the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival will be held September 30, October 1 & 2 at the Practice Tee in Manchester. Hours are 10-5 daily, Friday through Sunday. Adult admission is $10, children are free. Rain or shine-under tents. Plenty of free parking. No pets, please.

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