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Christmas in the Village a 'quaint' affair

Lucy Morton sells her homemade headbands and gift charms. Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)
December 08, 2010
SANDWICH — Visitors and residents could find homemade holiday gifts locally at the 33rd annual Christmas in the Village.

Crafters and businesses around Center Sandwich set up their establishments for the weekend-long event. Visitors could find each location with a number corresponding with the number on a sign or stocking outside.

Locations included craft displays at town and school buildings and displays in galleries and stores.

Planning for this year's Christmas in the Village began in September. Co-organizer Ellen Lemberg said this year's event has around the same amount of vendors as it has had in previous years. She said the turnout was strong over the weekend, especially on Saturday with a good number coming out on Sunday.

"I think we've had people come from as far north as Jackson and as far south as probably Connecticut," she said, noting that they received a visit from one lady from France who was on vacation. "I think that's because of the village, it's so quaint. People love going around."

After 33 years the event has continued to have an appeal for visitors.

"I think people like the handmade quality and the ambience of the shops (more) than fighting mall traffic," Lemberg said. "No traffic jams and unique shopping, not the same old gifts."

At Sandwich Central School, Shelley Lachance sold goat milk soap through her company House by the Lake out of Melvin Village. She initially started making soap as a way to earn extra money. She receives the pre-mixed soap from another company and adds scents and shapes it into bars.

After selling it at a fair, "They completely sold out," she said.

This was her third year at Christmas in the Village.

"I know a lot of people here who live in this community," Lachance said, saying she has friends who do crafts and come to Christmas in the Village.

Rich Veld of Sandwich was exposed to Christmas in the Village through his wife Valerie Veld, who sells baskets and other items by Longaberger. Rich Veld makes pens from pieces of wood from the family woodpile and made his debut at the fair this year with his creations.

Rich Veld showed the process that a piece of wood goes through to become a pen. He will find a piece of wood in the pile of the right size and sturdiness to turn down, drill through, add a barrel and other parts, and finish it into a pen.

Valerie Veld signed her husband up for the show.

"This fair is awesome," Valerie Veld said. "We like to be part of the community and do our part. It's a support system."

By Sunday his pens were getting a good response.

"I've been surprised at how well they've sold," Rich Veld said. "Once they find out the maple and oak are Sandwich trees made by a Sandwich resident, it resonates."

This was also the fair debut of 7-year-old Lucy Morton, who sold handmade gift charms and head bands. The heart shaped gift tags were made from paper mache cut out with cookie cutters and she attached silk flower charms she assembled onto headbands.

Her mother Angela Morton works with the PTA to help run the book sales at the school.

"She told me I could have a stand," Lucy Morton said.

Angela Morton said her daughter has also sold items at the North Sandwich Store. Lucy paid for her own stand, though organizers gave her a discounted rate for being a child.

"She's a craft little girl," Angela Morton said. "She likes visiting with people and figuring out money."

More crafters displayed their wares around town, including at the Sandwich Historical Society and the fire station.

Linda Spear of Madison sold hooked rugs and dyed silk scarves at the fire station while giving a demonstration of rug hooking. Spear said she started rug hooking when she retired around 10 or 15 years ago. Spear also sells her works at other fairs in the area and teaches rug hooking at Sandwich Home Industries. This was her third year in Christmas in the Village.

"People come back because they remember things people had for sale," Spear said. "They think this would be a good gift for so-and-so. I think it's a wonderful venue and it's also fun to chat with our fellow artisans."

The event provided exposure to art galleries and craft guilds located around Center Sandwich. The Sandwich Artisans Guild located in the back of Mocha Rizing was one of the local stores taking part. Susan Lirakis and C.C. White of the Sandwich Artisans Guild said the event helped bring exposure to their gallery and the work of crafters around the area.

"I think it's very, very helpful to have a central place for people to go to," Lirakis said. "This gives you the opportunity to be available."

At the same time, visitors to Mocha Rizing could also enjoy live music and look at the gingerbread houses entered for the annual contest.

Other events included sleigh rides, a sport equipment swap at the Sandwich Children's Center, and the town's annual tree lighting.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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