by Doug McClure
HARDWICK – The 2021 Fall Foliage Craft Fair went smoothly, despite the vagaries of COVID and compressed preparation timeline, according to AWARE board member M. Paulette Brochu-Colburn.
No event was held in 2020 due to COVID, and previous years’ fairs were put together by the Hardwick Area Chamber of Commerce (HACC). This year, the HACC had merged with the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce and the responsibility for staging the craft fair was taken on by AWARE.
Beyond the uncertainties COVID introduced, especially with the venue being Hardwick Elementary School, AWARE had much shorter notice to prepare for the event and get vendors to sign up due to the merger. Typically, said Brochu-Colburn, HACC had worked to secure vendors in the spring, but this year that couldn’t happen until August. She said that thirty-four vendors participated, and from what she had heard, all had a successful experience in selling their wares. Several had already said that they are looking forward to next year’s craft fair.
Brochu-Colburn estimated that, based on the free door prize tickets handed out to most people upon entry, the number of customers attending was around 350. Three drawings were held for the door prizes, one at 10 a.m., one at noon, and one at 2 p.m. If the person holding the winning ticket was still on-site, they would receive a $25 gift certificate good for one of the vendors present.
While a comparison to earlier fairs was difficult due to the circumstances and timing of the event, Brochu-Colburn said that the attendance at the craft fair was “steady” throughout the day. She remembered previous years when, she said, attendance had been more sporadic.
AWARE also did its own fundraising with a “lantern raffle.” People bought tickets for the raffle in hopes of winning a specific item. Brochu-Colburn said roughly $500 was raised by AWARE at the event, and that amount is matched by a private group, meaning the total amount raised worked out to $1,000.
Brochu-Colburn credited HACC for providing AWARE with “good information” to help organize the event. She said that the event was “a wonderful public relations event for everyone involved” and thanked both the vendors and the community for their response.