Submitted by Jennifer Favalora.
December 7, 2019 marks the 32nd year our community has enjoyed the treasure of the Haddam-Killingworth Middle School PTO Craft Fair. Over the years this event has held many iterations, from a small fair in the old Middle School gym to what it is today; an artists’ market with 80 crafters, a scavenger hunt for kids, a raffle, a book fair for all ages, and concessions and bake sale serving breakfast and lunch. The wide assortment of artists and crafters are the highlight of the show with unique, handcrafted wares including jewelry, photography, handbags, knitted items, soaps, candles, dog treats, and much more.
Since its inception, many well-known community members have carried the torch as Craft Fair Chairman and added their own personal touch to the event including Laura Roman, who ran the event from 2010-2015. “When I took over, we just had vendors in the gym and we had to turn away vendors…That’s when we came up with the idea of putting vendors in the cafeteria.”
Last year the PTO asked Bridget Marshall, owner of Oh Fudge! And More and a parent at HKMS, to take the lead. Bridget attends over 150 fairs, festivals and markets a year, giving her better insight as an organizer. “My experience at so many fairs gives me an understanding of both what the shopper and the artisan need to make an event successful. We hand pick our artisans for variety to make sure that shoppers have diversity to fulfill their wish lists. However, no matter how great the vendors are, without shoppers there is no success. Last year we had over 1,200 people who came to shop because not only do we spend a great deal of time getting the word out, our crafters and the public shares how much they love our show.”
This year’s craft fair sold out of available spaces in a matter of weeks and presently has a waitlist of 60 vendors. Teri Everett with Holiday House Creations has been selling jewelry at the HKMS Craft Fair for 25 years. She credits her many happy returns to the consistency of the fair and the variety and quality of the vendors. “This fair is not heavy on one craft versus another. We have been to fairs where there have been 65% crafters were jewelry. Those we do not attend again.”
The crafters appreciate the attention, quality and organization of the show. Lisa Reck creator of Lisa Maree Designs, attended as an artist for the first time last year. She was drawn by the quality of all the participants in the show. “I enjoy participating in handmade only events because the customer knows that they are going to find quality handmade merchandise and are willing to spend the money on top notch goods.” Reck adds, “Overall, it’s a well run, well attended event. I like how organized it was. Volunteers and staff are super friendly and worked hard to drive traffic to the event.”
Students volunteers are the added touch that makes this fair stand out from the rest. Members of the HKMS Student Council take on many of the responsibilities. They are integral in the set up of the event by assisting the crafters with their heavy lifting, and throughout the day they work at all of the stations. Haddam resident Jane Sibley, owner of Auntie Arwen’s Spices appreciates the work the students put in. “I’ve been going to the HK Holiday Fair I think since it began. Having student help in setting up and breaking down has been a godsend.”
PTO President Jon Lieberman is grateful for all of the support. “This event takes an army of parents, students and teachers to make happen. Hundreds of man hours go into the planning and execution of the craft fair and it’s a huge credit to our school community that the event seemingly always goes off without a hitch. To me, this event showcases the best the community has to offer for a wonderful holiday celebration.”
The proceeds of the craft fair benefit the students at the Intermediate and Middle Schools by funding enrichment opportunities, field trip scholarships, and educational programs for the 738 students at the two schools. The HKMS Craft Fair will be open on December 7th, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Visit their Facebook or Instagram Pages for a full list of all of the artists and crafters attending, and to get a sneak peak at what they will be bringing to fair. (Facebook: Haddam Killingworth Middle School Craft Fair, Instagram: hkms_craft_fair)
Photos by Jennifer Favalora.