BRATTLEBORO—The Stone Church on Main Street — for the past few months, filled with music after extensive renovations to the building — will be filled with art of a more visual nature when it hosts its first Winter Craft Fair.
Larisa Volkavichyute is organizing the event, and she promises “cool, modern” wares from 33 vendors. Attendees can expect jewelry, pottery, cosmetics, accessories, clothing, housewares, visual art, and more.
“We got a great response, and we want a lot of vendors to participate,” said Volkavichyute, so nearly all of the vendors are only appearing on one of the two days. “Just a few will be here on both days,” she said.
“My main message is that there will be different vendors on both days, so come both days,” she said.
In the back corner of the room, at the new bar, Johnson will serve beer on tap, special holiday cocktails, coffee, tea, and snacks.
For the youngest attendees, Volkavichyute is working with KidsPlayce to set up an area with rugs and soft toys for children to play. She noted the kids’ area is unsupervised, but “will keep kids occupied.” A face-painter will decorate attendees of any age.
Although this is Volkavichyute’s first time organizing a craft fair, she is a veteran of the scene. Back home in Moscow, she began taking classes and selling jewelry on the weekends.
“I was an investment banker,” she said, “and I started making jewelry to save my soul.”
Volkavichyute may set up shop at the Winter Craft Fair, “but only if there’s room. I just want to squeeze as many vendors in as I can.”
Some vendors are from Brattleboro and the surrounding towns, but others are coming from farther throughout the region.
A few of the participants Volkavichyute is excited about are Yasuko Ichinomiya Parmenter, who creates ornaments; Bob Bursky of Jubilee Farm; Jeffrey Chevalier of Better Wheel Workshops, Krista Duhaime of Focal Jewelry Designs; Nune Levonyan, who creates jewelry; Kat Whitledge, who makes neckties and bow-ties; fine artists Julia Eva Bacon and Aaron Powers, and knitter Nancy Flynn and her woodworker husband, Neal Buffum.
With so many craft fairs happening this time of year, one might ask what makes this one different.
“We really want to have cool products,” said Volkavichyute, who admitted that “everyone wants to have cool products.”
At the Stone Church Winter Market, “we have a mix of established and unknown vendors. I want to bring in vendors from other places and new crafters with a good product to offer.”
In selecting participants, Volkavichyute said, “We’re looking for a great variety of vendors so they don’t all compete with each other.”
“Since I’m a vendor myself, I take it very personally if I have to say ‘no’ to a vendor. I get sad; I don’t want to discourage them,” she said.
She hopes to make the craft fair a regular event, so perhaps those she turned down will turn up at a future fair.
Volkavichyute’s main inspiration for organizing the Stone Church Winter Craft Fair is the twice-yearly Broke: The Affordable Arts Fair, held in Peterborough, N.H., where all wares cost less than $50. She was a vendor there in the spring, and she met a few other artists who will participate in this event.
She also directs readers to check out the event’s Facebook page, where she will post photographs of the participating artists’ wares and a vendor schedule.
Volkavichyute noted a band approached her to play on the Stone Church’s stage during the craft fair, “but we said ‘no’ because it’ll be too distracting. We want people to focus on the vendors.”
“But,” Volkavichyute added, “we promise to have good background music!”