Manchester arts, crafts festival opens next weekend

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The 28th Annual Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival kicks off American Craft Week in Vermont from Friday, Sept. 30, to Sunday, Oct. 2 at the Practice Tee on Route 7A, a mile and a half north of the roundabout in downtown Manchester.

"While other industry associations have long touted their products, the craft industry has lacked a single way to be highly visible," said Carol Weeks, an organizer of American Craft Week. "Along with craft organizations across the U.S., Vermont is a leader in supporting American Craft Week."

Attending the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival is an opportunity to celebrate the wonders of American Craft. Every day thousands of American artists share their vision and talent by producing hand-made decorative and functional pieces. Craft show patrons demonstrate their love of these items by coming to the shows, meeting the artists, and buying handmade products.

The Manchester show features 150 artists and artisans displaying and selling traditional and contemporary crafts and original art as well as a specialty food tent.

While craft shopping, customers are delighted with culinary choices served by local restaurants and food trucks. The Dining Tent, which is heated, offers tables and chairs with a relaxed ambience. Vermont craft beers are served to accompany the luncheon plates. There will be live entertainment each day.

Besides savoring Vermont food and drink, there are many craft demos.

Jeffrey Gale, of Strafford (www.jeffreygalebasketmaker.com), will showcase his traditional basketmaking skills all three days.

His baskets are made of white ash trees. He pounds the wood until it is the desired thickness and then weaves each new piece until ultimately there is a basket. He is widely collected by private individuals and Museums including the Smithsonian.

Add Jonathan Woodward, a potter from Clinton, N.Y. to the mix, with his Raku pottery demo (http://www.clintonpottery.com/raku.html).

This year the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester will be there offering demos of fly tying to participants through any level of fly tying, from basic to advanced.

Additionally, casting instruction will be presented, ranging from beginner lessons to a specific course that teaches the nuances of casting with classic bamboo and fiberglass rods. For the kids: an interactive class in tying clown flies.

"American Craft Week is held 10 days in October and the hope is to educate more people about the importance of American craftsmen and women," Weeks noted. "Crafts enrich our homes, wardrobes, offices and public spaces. The crafts industry contributes to our nation's economy and the fabric of our national history. Craftwork is original, beautiful and enduring."

As part of the American Craft Week celebration in Vermont, the Vermont Craft Council is planning its Fall Open Studio Weekend on Oct. 1 and 2. Maps will be available at the Festival so craft show patrons may also visit those studios local to Manchester.

For more details about the Open Studio Weekend, visit VermontCrafts.com. Interestingly enough American Craft Week has been expanded; it's now Oct. 1 - 16. The Vermont Crafts Council is following suit and has added a second weekend of "Open House" Oct. 8 and 9 to its Fall Studio Tour.

Hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily, Friday through Sunday. Adult admission is $10, children are free. No pets, please. Complete information is available at Craftproducers.com.


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