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155 artists share their craft at Old Deerfield fair

  • Melanie Miller, of Melanie's Woven Memories, works on caning a Kennedy rocker at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Fairgoers peruse items for sale at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Fairgoers peruse items for sale at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Tim and Joynce Callahan, of Townsend, view painted glass pieces from Lozier Glass Studio at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Anne Mastrototaro, of Greenfield, walks among custom garden plates made by Paula Poirier at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Raeann Burns, of Ravena, N.Y., carries a home a birdhouse purchased at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Marjorie White, of Hatfield, looks through items for sale by Cecelia Rose Book Art at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Items for sale by Cecelia Rose Book Art that feature inspiring messages on the pages of recycled books at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • A patch of sunlight hits a large ceramic basin embellished with natural elements crafted by Diane Echlin at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra members Emily Menard, from left, Danny Provost, Jason Daye, and Nathan Provost, perform during the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Al Czellecz, of Western Mass Woodturners, turns a block of sumac wood into a bowl on a turning lathe at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Scott Boyers makes and bags popcorn at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



For the Gazette
Thursday, September 28, 2017

DEERFIELD – As 76-year-old Barbara Pelis and her 52-year-old daughter, Susan Pelis, enjoyed popsicles in the shade, they thought about some of the one-of-a-kind goods they picked up at the annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival, having attended faithfully for over 20 years.

“There’s such interesting crafts,” said Barbara Pelis, of South Deerfield. “It’s amazing what people do.”

Jewelry and clothing have been some of their favorite acquisitions, with Susan Pelis pulling a multicolored, hand-designed shirt from her bag.

“I’m not going to buy that at J.C. Penney,” said Susan Pelis, of Greenfield.

The two agreed they wouldn’t miss the event, attending the 42nd annual on Saturday to find untraditional art and crafts made by “unusually talented people.” But supporting the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, which the fair benefits, and enjoying Old Deerfield are added bonuses.

“So many (craft fairs) we’ve been to in the past, the setting is not as pretty as this,” Barbara Pelis said. “It’s not the same going to an auditorium in Northampton as it is coming to Historic Deerfield.”

Keeping the event fresh even after 42 years, Craft Fair Coordinator Ella Colton said she incorporated 45 new artisans into the total group of 155 craft vendors.

“It’s a fresh face at every corner of the show,” she said.

Though Colton said the festival used to have a DJ and some live music, a live music series with performers playing continuously at three performance areas is also a new feature of this year’s festival.

“It’s an arts and crafts fair, so I felt we should have a music category as well,” she said. “I wanted to go bigger with it this year.”

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, vendors like Sara Scherf, 35, of Greenfield, shared their unique trades with fair guests who weaved in and out of booth after booth. Scherf’s specialty? She prints inspiring messages on the pages of recycled, “lovingly dismantled” books through her business Cecelia Rose Book Art, which she named after her grandmother.

“The quotes are things that she wrote in cards or read to me when I was growing up,” Scherf said of her original inspiration for messages like “Don’t quit your day dreams,” which she incorporated into her first-ever piece.

“I made one for a friend who was having a hard time in school, and then her friend wanted one,” she said. “Now it’s my full-time job. It just quickly evolved.”

Scherf has attended the Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival for three years, during which time she said she’s seen a few people even break into tears after connecting deeply with one of her messages.

Down the row from Scherf sat Becky Huntington, 65, of Milton, the sole proprietor of The Quilting B. Huntington makes quilts, wall hangings, table runners and tree skirts, which she’s been selling at the Deerfield festival for nearly 10 years. It’s one of her favorite shows.

“I love the atmosphere, the location,” Huntington said. “People here are generally smiling.”

Perhaps, then, it’s lucky that Huntington, a lifelong quilter, was given a subtle push into the world of craft fairs years ago.

“My best friend said, ‘I decided that you need to do a craft show. So I signed you up.’”

Huntington feels it’s her unique color combinations and choice of fabrics that people enjoy most. Given she loves to use fall colors and autumn themes, her quilts are also season appropriate.

Jewelry designer Chris Lann, 47, of Brattleboro, Vermont, agrees that it’s the individuality of his pieces that attract customers, including many repeat customers over his 12 years at the Deerfield fair.

“Not many people knit their own chains and certainly not many knit their own wire to make the chains,” Lann said.

Lann continued to weave silver wires together behind his booth, allowing people to see his craftsmanship firsthand.

“They see my hands working on it,” he said. “It gives them context for the piece they might wear later.”