by Francesca Kitch
CRAFTSBURY – Since 1973, on a Saturday in July, vendors from all over Vermont gather on Craftsbury Common to sell their crafts. Ranging from woven baskets and flowers to vintage jewelry and ceramic pieces, this event offers both the “antique” and the “unique”.
The “Antiques & Uniques” event has not been held since 2019 due to COVID complications; however, organizers are hopeful for this years’ event, as a number of changes have been made, including fresh ideas from new board members and learned experience from complications from years past.
Attendance has hovered around 3,000 in the past, even hitting over 4,000 one memorable year, with a parking lot full of license plates from both in- and out-of-state.
Though the event is celebrating its 50th anniversary since the inaugural fair in 1973, the Town of Craftsbury has only been organizing it since 2010. Prior to that, the Vermont Children’s Aid Society out of Burlington used to organize and fund the event. As a nonprofit, this was their biggest fundraiser of the year, and they had volunteers working to make it happen. As the organization began to decline, the Town of Craftsbury took over as directors.
With this new influx of organizers and ideas, the board decided it needed something “to make it a kind of unique, stand-out event” according to Bruce Urie, longtime board member. Under the leadership of Karen Bartlett, rather than paying workers to help out with the event, the board decided that their wages would instead be donated to a local organization of the volunteers’ choice. These could vary from the Craftsbury Public Library to the Community Care Center or any similar organization. Michelle Warren, Co-Chair of the Antiques and Uniques Organizing Committee, said that she doesn’t “know any other event like it,” with their volunteer plan being what sets their event apart from others and “makes Craftsbury special.”
Urie also notes that Craftsbury has always had a friendly competition with the Antique market in Chelsea, over vendors. The largest number of vendors to date has vied for a spot in the Common next weekend. With over 100 vendors listed on the website – over 25 of which are antique dealers – and many more sponsors, the 2023 event is the biggest yet.
Additional changes have been made since the last event, with a hired musical set and food vendors, relieving the board of their historical cooking duties. Urie emphasized the event’s accessibility to all, with a plan for handicapped shuttles to run to and from the parking lot, and a covered area to sit in while eating or taking a break from shopping.
The history of this event has been community- and family-oriented, as families and businesses have been coming back since the beginning. Urie, who had a stand for his business, Stillmeadow Gardens Flowers, for many years, noted that an older couple who have always had a booth next to his own got a booth this year with their grandson, who is skilled in his forge work and will be selling his own crafts.
“There’s just something about it that has a vintage feel to it, yet it attracts a lot of different ages. It’s not just all older people looking at older things, it’s got fun jewelry and crafts” said Warren. Urie added that it’s a great event for the family, noting that it’s “such an interesting collection [of people] because kids can be there and be happy getting French fries, or getting their faces painted at the children’s events” while their parents shop and their grandparents meet up with old friends or sit and enjoy the music.
The event will take place this Saturday, July 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All are welcome and, in typical Kingdom fashion, they are encouraged to spread the word.