March 4, 2010

Crafty shoppers check out the fairs

RAY ROUTHIER

— By

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Staff Photo by Jack Milton, Tuesday, October 22, 2002: Brenda Tibbetts, of Standish, made these snowman candy jars and slate wall hangings.

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Photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Vendors and patrons fill the Windham High School gym Sunday for the annual athletic boosters fair. Sales are a bit slower because of the economy, several crafters said, but the events remain a big draw for shoppers looking for bargains or alternatives to mass-produced holiday gifts.

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Staff Writer

If holiday craft fairs were organized and marketed by some giant, media-savvy corporation, the radio ads might sound like this:

''Why fight traffic at the mall when you can find that unique, handmade gift you've been looking for at the holiday craft fair? There's no better way to tell someone they're special. Plus, you can browse used books, do crafts with your kids, have a fish chowder lunch for $5, and stock up on homemade pies and sweets.''

But holiday fairs are mostly put on by churches, school groups and other nonprofits. Still, all of the above are true statements; it's just that you won't be hearing William Shatner or some other legendary pitchman reading them on the air.

If you talk to holiday fair organizers, they'll tell you the events are important fundraisers and great at building community spirit.

Plus, anyone who has ever been to one will tell you they're just plain fun, a holiday tradition that sort of wraps up into one neat package many of the things we love about the holidays.

''I remember going to them as a little girl, and it was always so much fun, like a reunion, where you see everybody and everybody's in a good mood,'' said Pam Tomkinson, coordinator of the 19th annual Holly Berry Craft Fair, scheduled for this coming Saturday. The event is a fundraiser for Lake Region High School's Project Graduation 2010. ''It's also a great time to see the creativity of local people,'' she said.

Holiday fairs are great places to find a bargain, said Judy Gagnon, an organizer of Christmas in the Country at Tuttle Road United Methodist Church in Cumberland, scheduled for Nov. 21.

''People can get handmade items at very reasonable prices,'' Gagnon said. ''Plus, we have Harland Storey making his homemade doughnuts, and he's very well-known around here for his doughnuts.''

This year, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of churches and community groups across Maine holding these traditional annual events. Many have chowder, lobster rolls or other offerings for lunch as well as entertainment and children's activities.

Below is a random sampling of some of the holiday fairs scheduled around southern Maine this month, just to give you a taste of what's out there.

FRIDAY TO NOV. 8

St. Anthony's Parish Christmas Fair, 295 Brown St., Westbrook -- The fair's hours are 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. It will offer crafts, knitted items, baked goods, jellies, jams, books, puzzles, games and more. There will be a white elephant table, a children's craft table and a ''penny'' raffle. A ''big money raffle'' will have prizes of $500, $200 and $100.

An auction of goods and services will take place Saturday night, hosted by auctioneer Ed Casazza Jr.

Friday night's menu of food for sale includes lobster rolls, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and onion rings, plus chili and chowder daily. There will be a turkey dinner on Saturday evening, and a breakfast on Sunday morning.

For more information, call the church at 857-0490.

SATURDAY

Country Corner Christmas Fair, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Buxton United Methodist Church, Chicopee Road, Buxton -- There's a corn chowder and sandwich lunch for $5. Expect Christmas decorations, handmade crafts, books, a white elephant table, a food sale and more. For more information, call 642-3996.

Holly Berry Craft Fair, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Lake Region High School, 1877 Roosevelt Trail, Naples -- To benefit the high school's Project Graduation, this fair will include up to 50 crafters and home-based businesses selling everything from baby blankets and Avon cosmetics to floral centerpieces and jewelry. There will be a chowder lunch and ornament making for kids. Santa will visit from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and pose for pictures with children. Price will likely be less than $5. For more information, contact Pam Tomkinson at 221--0319 or e-mail PHTomkinson@msn.com.

Holiday Fair and Luncheon, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church, 810 Main St., Westbrook -- Crafts, jewelry, knitted items, used books, baked goods and more. Lunch items, including corn chowder and sandwiches, will be available starting at 11:30 a.m. For more information, call the church at 854-9157 or send an e-mail to wwchurch@conversent.net.

Fall Fair and Open House, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Merriconeag Waldorf School, 57 Desert Road, Freeport -- Fine crafts, handmade toys, food, live music, puppet stories, children's crafts, games, student presentations and school information. For more information, call 865-3900 or go online to www.merriconeag.org.

York County Retired Educators Association's Holiday Craft Fair, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Kennebunk High School, 89 Fletcher St., Kennebunk -- Local artisans will be selling custom-made and semi-precious stone jewelry, handmade tote bags and seasonal dried arrangements. Also for sale will be dolls, cookbooks, homemade relishes, baked goods, fudge, holiday crafts, used and new books, children's items, homemade wooden items, gift baskets and pillows. There will also be raffles and a lunch menu including homemade haddock chowder and chicken salad.

This annual event is the prime fundraiser for the association's scholarships, which are awarded to three future educators from York County high schools each spring. For more information, call 883-5991.

Christmas by the Sea Holiday Fair, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Elijah Kellogg Church, Route 123, Harpswell -- One highlight will be a raffle of a doll house. There will also be handmade crafts, baked goods, dried flower arrangements, wooden items, a silent auction and more. Food for sale will include lobster rolls, fish chowder and pies, starting at 11 a.m. For more information, call 833-6026.

NOV. 14

Just an Old Fashioned Fair, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., St. Ansgar Evangelical Lutheran Church, 515 Woodford St., Portland -- Homemade ''Yulecake'' Christmas breads and gifts from Scandinavia. Homemade items include candy, fudge and jellies. There will be lunch items, as well as coffee and pies. For more information, call the church at 774-8740 or go online to www.saintansgar.org.

Cornerstone United Methodist Church Fair, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., 20 Jenkins Road, Saco -- Crafts, quilts, pictures taken with Santa, baked goods, crab rolls, candy, mystery packages, holiday decorations, a white elephant sale and much more. For more information, call 286-9829.

Saco Middle School's Craft and Community Fair, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saco Middle School, 40 Buxton Road, Saco -- More than 50 crafters, live entertainment, lunch, a bake sale and plenty of parking. The event is sponsored by the Saco Middle School PTO. Call 282-4181.

Village Square Fair, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Standish Congregational Church, Oak Hill Road, Standish -- Apple fritters and baked goods, including a ''cookie'' walk. There will also be garden produce, crafts, children's clothing and a bargain basement. Lunch items, including chowders, stews and chili, will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 642-2503.

Mercy Hospital's Christmas Craft Fair, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 144 State St., Portland -- More than 30 crafters and artisans. Items featured this year will include quilting, jewelry, gift baskets, holiday decorations, soaps, knitted items, heat packs, baked goods, ceramics, stationery, photography and more. For more information, call 879-3585.

St. Patrick's Annual Bazaar, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., 1342 Congress St., Portland -- Lobster rolls, stew, sub sandwiches, pizza, crafts, knit items, games, a children's room, a white elephant table and baked goods will be featured. Raffle items include a hand-knitted Irish sweater, a 37-inch HD flat-screen TV and more. For more information, call 772-6325.

Annual Downeast Fair, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Woodfords Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St., Portland -- Features baked goods, candy, books, CDs, DVDs, a cookie walk, knit and sewn items, a silent auction, lobster rolls and chowder. For more information, call 774-8243 or e-mail info@woodfords church.org.

NOV. 21

Christmas in the Country at Tuttle Road United Methodist Church, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 52 Tuttle Road, Cumberland -- Church members will be selling a wide variety of handmade crafts and unique gifts, including doll clothes, baked goods, candy, jams, jellies, pickles, hats, mittens, scarves, handbags, aprons, pillows and pet gifts.

There will be Christmas ornaments and wreaths made to order, plus ''attic treasures'' for sale. Harland Storey, famous around town for his homemade doughnuts, will be selling them again this year. Lunch will be available, and there will be a silent auction with gifts to bid on.

The church can be contacted at 829-3766.

Holly Daze Bazaar, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., First Congregational Church, 301 Cottage Road, South Portland -- There will be wreaths, gifts, crafts, candy, baked goods, ornaments and decorations, a ''trash'n treasures'' room, knit goods, jewelry and books.

Lunch items available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. will include haddock chowder, lobster and crab rolls, chicken salad rolls and apple crisp. For more information, call 799-3361 or go online to www.fccucc.org.

Hannaford Associates' Holiday Craft Fair, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Elks Lodge, 1945 Congress St., Portland -- More than 50 crafters selling their wares, plus raffles. Call 885-2297.

Christmas Fair Holiday Prelude, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Thornton Heights United Methodist Church, 100 Westbrook St., South Portland -- Knit goods, seasonal decorations, jewelry, cooked food and children's items will be for sale. There will also be many crafters with tables set up, a ''treasure room'' of used goods, a silent auction, and lunch items including chowders and sandwiches. For information, call the church at 774-0487.

NOV. 28

Neighborly Craft Fair, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., North Berwick Primary School, 25 Varney Road, North Berwick -- Money collected at the raffle table, lunches, bake table and any donations will go to the North Berwick Food Pantry and the North Berwick Fuel Assistance Program. Learn more online at www.townofnorthberwick.org or by calling 676-3353.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com.

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