In the early 1970s, the late Jennifer Howard and the late Mitchell Kontoff had a goal of making Valley Players Theater financially sustainable. The Fayston couple looked for an annual event to help fund live theater in the Mad River Valley and the McTigue sisters of All Things Bright and Beautiful were willing to sell the small craft fair they had started.
And now, 50 years later, the Mad River Valley Craft Fair is celebrating its golden anniversary with artists still supporting artists. The fair was originally held next to the Big Picture, but due to limited parking and wet fields, it moved to Kenyon’s Field in 1996. Early helpers were Tony Egan and Bette Ann Libby and, more recently, Laura Arnesen has managed the craft fair. The Valley Players board considers this event one of their productions and rallies each Labor Day weekend to move items, volunteer and generally act as staff for the event. In 2020, due to the pandemic. the craft fair was online only, but even in 2011, just a few days after Tropical Storm Irene, the show went on. And now it is back to celebrate 50 years of art, community fun, food and music.
This year’s fair is Labor Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, September 4 and 5, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with 75-plus juried artists, four bands (Green Mountain Swing, Blackwolf, Medicine Tribe and Some Hollow), and 50 door prizes to celebrate 50 years. There is free parking, kids 12 and under get in free, and a small cash donation for adults (proceeds benefit the Valley Players Community Theater).
The fair is held rain or shine and people are asked to leave their pets at home. Artists hail mainly from Vermont with a handful coming from surrounding states like NY, NH and MA. Their work spans a huge variety of practical household items to whimsical decorative items plus jewelry, pottery, wood crafts, prints, photographs, paintings, clothing and more.
The craft fair is following current CDC guidelines and all Vermont safety precautions. While the tent is more open than a building, organizers are strongly recommending wearing masks under the tent, regardless of vaccination status. Signs recommending masks and hand-sanitizing stations will be spread around the field. There is plenty of room to socially distance while listening to music or having lunch -- American Flatbread (including craft beer and cocktails), Three Mountain Cafe (sandwiches, salads, wraps and coffee), Rick’s Chuck Wagon, Yum Food Truck (mac n ’cheese), fried dough and Wilcox’s homemade ice cream and lemonade will be offered. For more infor