by Doug McClure
HARDWICK – AWARE is taking over running the Fall Foliage Craft Fair this year from the Hardwick Area Chamber of Commerce (HACC). Executive Director Anna Pirie and board member Paulette Brochu-Colburn said that while AWARE has had a fundraising presence through most of the craft fair’s over-thirty-five-year history, the change was prompted by HACC’s merger with the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.
Brochu-Colburn said, “[They] aren’t in a position to organize it and run it. So, the Hardwick Area Chamber of Commerce came to AWARE and asked if we’d be interested in doing that as a fundraiser.”
She said the timing was not ideal because AWARE is looking for board members, but long-time organizer Jane Johns would continue her work this year, and some community members have also stepped up to help.
AWARE does not plan to make any changes to the fair at this time, though the ongoing uncertainty of COVID could.
Brochu-Colburn said, “the vendors have all been advised that there’s a possibility [the craft fair] might not happen. And whatever happens, we’ll be following the [COVID] protocols of the school district.”
Hosting the event outside would not be viable due to the time of the year it is held. The fair this year is slated for the first Saturday in October as it has been historically, though over the years it has scaled back some.
“At one time it was a very big two-day event. In fact, for many years it happened twice a year during the spring festival,” said Brochu-Colburn.
The craft fair is open to vendors with handcrafted items of their own making. For example, woodworkers, quiltmakers, photographers, jewelers, clothing designers, glassworkers, soap makers, candy makers, and more. Over the years, said Brochu-Colburn, the event had seen as many as sixty to seventy vendors, and this year AWARE hopes to have at least forty to fifty.
“We feel pretty confident that we should get that many.”
Some local organizations will be allowed to fundraise at the fair.
The two estimate the typical attendance of the fair in most years could be anywhere from 300 to 500. Visitors to previous craft fairs have been fed breakfast and lunch using the school’s cafeteria, which is another question prompted by COVID.
“We’re hoping to make that happen this year,” said Brochu-Colburn.
In any case, contingency plans are underway to have some food available.
The organizational change from HACC to AWARE delayed the event getting organized slightly, so at this point vendors interested in exhibiting can still get in.
“No one should be afraid to ask. It will all depend how many we get, and if there’s space. We wouldn’t want to keep anyone out.”This year’s craft fair will be on October 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hardwick Elementary School. Admission is free. Potential vendors should contact Debbie Messier at firstname.lastname@example.org and direct any other questions to Brochu-Colburn at email@example.com or (802) 472-6619.