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Crafters bring crowds to Mill Falls craft festival



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Greg Saffie sells sweets made by Saffie’s Neighborhood Bakery in Londonderry. Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)
June 02, 2010
MEREDITH — A wide assortment of items from crafters all over New England drew sizable crowds to the annual craft festival at Mill Falls.

The Memorial Weekend Craft Festival ran from Saturday through Monday at Mill Falls Marketplace.

The fair, organized by Castleberry Fairs out of Rochester, brought many crafters around the parking lot and Mill Falls buildings as well as a healthy crowd of shoppers.

"We had huge crowds and great sales and its such an encouraging sign for the future," said Terry Mullen, Manager of Castleberry Fairs.

Mullen said the weather was excellent through the weekend for the first time in many years, aside from the smoky conditions created by forest fires in Quebec.

"We had a good crowd this year," said event staffer Ashley Mullen. "Really lucky with the weather."

Terry and Ashley Mullen said vendor slots filled up quickly for the fair. Attendance was also good this year in comparison with other years.

"I would say the economy is helping," Ashley Mullen said. "Right now things are turning and the exhibitors I've spoken to seem to be doing pretty well."

Those exhibitors came in with everything from jewelry and pottery to doll clothes and everything in between.

Bernadette Henry of Cape Neddick, Maine, sells pottery garden accessories through her company Jillian's Enchanted Garden.

Henry has been doing ceramics for the past 20 years, a hobby she learned from her parents.

She worked as a dental hygienist for 10 years but wanted to spend time at home with her children. Since then she has been making pots, statues, and other items meant to go into a garden.

Her creations are made by casting liquid clay into molds, which are then kiln fired.

Henry said she has done the Meredith show for a number of years.

"You get a variety of people who haven't seen you before, you get a lot of tourists in the area who haven't seen you before," Henry said.

Baked treats were on display from the Londonderry-based Saffie's Neighborhood Bakery. Saffie's is a family owned bakery that sells gourmet whoopie pies, cookies, and fruit breads with many of the recipes coming from co-owner Kathy Saffie.

Her husband Greg Saffie was giving out samples and selling to the crowds at the fair. Greg Saffie said business was good for them.

"Because of shows like this, we're about to be part of Associated Grocers," Greg Saffie said, saying their products will be sold at markets such as Vista Foods in Laconia and Harvest Markets in Wolfeboro.

Marie Grantham of Merrimack sat in her tent on Sunday and knitted, the results of which were on shelves and tables throughout the tent.

Grantham said she has been knitting since she was a child.

Many of her items are children's sweaters; all done in various styles and colors. Depending on the piece, Grantham said items take around 10 to 12 hours to make. She knits through the year and sells at around seven to eight shows.

"It's fun to see all the tourists and where they come from, all the different states," Grantham said.

Ernie Pratt of Wolfeboro makes children's wooden puzzles as part of Wood N Things. Pratt started out as a general woodworker and then gradually specialized in wooden puzzles.

He started making them for shows 10 years before he and his wife Bobbie retired.

"We knew when we retired we would want to do something to keep ourselves busy," Bobbie Pratt said.

Ernie Pratt makes all the puzzles on a scroll saw and paints them with certified lead-free paint. Some designs are more complex, one of which was inspired by a geometric design done by their 14-year-old granddaughter in art class. Puzzles take around two to three hours to make and they sell them at fairs all over New England.

Dog lovers could make their own treats with mixes made by Because We Love Dogs of Middleton.

Jill Wolkerstorfer makes the mixes out of all-natural ingredients.

"I had dogs of my own that were picky," Wolkerstorfer said, saying she tested the recipes on her two huskies and neighbors dogs.

Now she has three rescue dogs and shares her creations with other dogs.

She also sells glasses laser-etched with paw prints as well as feeder stations.

The diverse selections attracted a similarly diverse group of customers to the fair.

Lori Smith and her daughter Marcy Patridge came to the Lakes Region from Lyndonville, Vt., to see the Country Throwdown Tour at Meadowbrook. They said they arrived early and decided to visit the craft fair in Meredith.

"It's very nice, lots of nice things," Smith said. "We just happened upon it."

Patridge did find a chip and dip platter.

Lurando and Kellie Mata of Laconia made their second trip to the fair with their orange tabby cat U-E. U-E stayed on a leash and often sat on Lurando Mata's shoulders.

"He goes everywhere with us," Kellie Mata said, saying U-E has been on a motorcycle and joined them on hikes. "He loves to travel."

Lurando Mata said he enjoys coming to the fair for the dip tastings, while Kellie Mata likes to find items with dolphins.

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