SOUTHINGTON – Following Black Friday and Small Business Saturday was a giant craft fair Sunday at the Aqua Turf Club.
Upwards of 200 artisans staged their wares, which ran the gamut. From knit character hats and bizarre inventions to edible treats and delicate jewelry, gifts of all kinds could be found at the annual Southington Arts and Crafts Fair.
“It’s unique,” Meriden resident Laura Pulver pointed out. “You don’t go to a department store and find what you can find here.”
Her partner Paul James was fascinated by a hooded towel in one booth.
“This is so diverse,” he said. “If you come here and you’re bored there’s something really wrong with you.”
In stark contrast to in-store Christmas shopping, much of what was for sale at the fair was handcrafted by its sellers.
Victoria Boudreau stood among intricately-carved birdhouses, modeled after backyard cupolas fashioned by her husband Leonce and his brother Gilles.
“They’re carpenters,” Boudreau explained.
Best Built Bird Homes is the name of the family’s company, located in Manchester.
A few steps down, Eileen Norkun’s booth featured her dazzling broaches, designed from bits and pieces of vintage costume jewelry.
“This is a yearly event for me,” the Bristol resident said. “It’s one of the biggest ones in the area. Everybody does really well here. People come and spend a lot of money.”
Some vendors had the ability to accept credit cards as payment, while others only took cash and checks.
Frank and Helene Gilliatt were part of the latter group.
“This is the only show we do in Connecticut,” Frank said inside their booth, Flowers by Helene. “It’s the best one.”
Helene’s floral arrangements are made from artificial blooms, some interspersed with dried eucalyptus or wheat grass.
“They last forever,” Frank said.
The couple came from their home in Marlborough, Mass., to take part in the fair. They weren’t the only vendor who travelled far this weekend.
J.R. Watkins sales representative Ernie Tavarels unloaded the company’s all-natural soaps and cosmetics after a trip from New Bedford, Mass.
“This is a good show,” Tavarels said. “It’s a two-and-a-half hour ride. I’ve been coming the last 18 years.”
The fair is put on by New England Craft Shows, a company that hosts 14 events around the northeast each year.
Bristol resident Greta Albright said it was her first time visiting the Aqua Turf.
“It’s my first large craft fair like this,” she added.
Albright’s line of hats and mittens is called Granny G’s Creations, crocheted from a rainbow of chenille yarn.
“I like chenille because it’s so thick and warm,” she said.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.