PORTLAND – The Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship arrived at 10 a.m. Saturday, delivering 2,250 passengers eager to roam the city and spend some cash.

Waiting for them at the Casco Bay Lines Ferry Terminal was what looked like an arts and crafts fair.

More than 20 artisans had set up tables where they sold jewelry, candles, soap, scarves and even Christmas ornaments along the sidewalk and in Bell Buoy Park.

But this fair also had a bit of a free-for-all feel to it.

Artisans have been flocking to the area on the days when cruise ships call to port, crowding the area with booths and attracting throngs of shoppers checking out their wares.

The boom of street vendors has created concern among some artisans who are having to arrive as early as 6 a.m. to secure a prime spot and fear the city will shut them down if it becomes too crowded. City officials are currently grappling with what is classified as art and permissible by the city’s street artists rules and regulations.

Meanwhile, as the cruise ship passengers walked down Commercial Street to the city’s Old Port and then back again to the Ocean Gateway International Marine Terminal, they got an eyeful of what artisans from the region had to offer.

Darlene Schink of Rockland was one jeweler selling her work. She said her signature item is “the tree of life,” which uses wire and beads to create a tree within a teardrop-shaped hoop.

Schink has been coming to Portland once or twice a week throughout the summer to sell her jewelry, usually on days when cruise ships call to port.

“I work really hard,” Schink said, appreciating the attention customers give her work and the sales she made.

Coming to Portland on these busy days just adds to the fun, she said, “because I’m meeting people from all over.”

Portland allows artists, but not crafters, to display and sell their work without a permit in the city.

The artisans in Bell Buoy Park have created a point of interest and a sense of atmosphere for the area, some artisans said.

Michelle Byras, a Maine College of Art student, has been selling her jewelry on the streets of Portland for eight years, she said. Setting up shop on the street is a “major asset” in her career and her financial security.

“I love it. As an artist it gives me a chance to show off my work,” she said. “And customers appreciate us being here.”

Byras said cruise ships have been a major draw for many artisans, something Portland artist and crafter Diana Ellis has also noticed.

Ellis has been selling her jewelry and photographs, among other crafts, on the streets of Portland for three years. While having more artisans in the park crowds the area, she also sees it as a good thing.

“It’s competition,” she said, no different from retail stores that pop up in clusters.

But as more artisans set up on the streets, city officials are taking notice. Ellis said some were told recently they couldn’t sell their wares because it wasn’t art. However, the rules and regulations don’t clearly outline what is and isn’t permissible for street artists to sell.

City Councilor Kevin Donoghue said it boils down to a question of defining what is considered art and enforcing the regulations.

“It’s so political,” said Ellis, who doesn’t see a problem with the crowd of artisans. “For a lot of people, this is their livelihood at this point.”

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]


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