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Conway craft fair inspired by personal histories

  • Attendees at a holiday craft fair benefiting charities at the Grammar School Sunday afternoon, Dec. 10, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • The Grammar School hosted a holiday craft fair Sunday afternoon benefiting charities, Dec. 10, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Traci Protzenko, left, serves food to Carol MacBurnie, right, at a holiday craft fair benefiting charities at the Grammar School Sunday afternoon, Dec. 10, 2017. Volunteer Alice Maiewski, far left, looks on. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Traci Protzenko serves food at a holiday craft fair benefiting charities at the Grammar School Sunday afternoon, Dec. 10, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—



Recorder Staff
Monday, December 11, 2017

CONWAY — The Grammar School was recently transformed into a festive holiday craft fair raising money for charity.

“This is the first time we’ve tried this, and it’s going pretty well. We’re happy,” said Traci Protzenko, a psychologist at the school who organized the event along with local resident June Chamberlain. Throughout the year, “We go to craft fairs and then donate the proceeds from what we sell,” Protzenko explained.

Together, they sell items such as embroidery, sewing, sweet treats, and many other handmade crafts. Protzenko donates what she earns to military memorial organizations in honor of her brother, Paul Protzenko, a Connecticut State Police officer who died in Afghanistan in 2011, serving with the 82nd Airborne Division. Protzenko described him as someone who “lived to help people.”

Each year, Chamberlain donates money to a family affected by cancer in honor of her father, who died from cancer. “It’s more personal that way,” Chamberlain said. “It’s a lot of fun to do, and it’s nice to give back.”

On Sunday, Protzenko and Chamberlain had many craft items displayed on tables throughout the school, and sold homemade lunch plates of beef, potatoes, hot dogs, bread pudding and apple pie. Everything raised from those sales will be split between the Wounded Warrior Project, The Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial, a family affected by cancer and a scholarship fund for local students. More than 100 people attended the fair. Midway through the fair, Protzenko said she didn’t know how much had been raised.

“We’ve had a lot of students come through. We’ve had a lot of parents. It’s a community event. The snow held off and it’s been really special,” said Carol MacBurnie, a retired Grammar School teacher who lives in Deerfield. MacBurnie was one of about nine volunteers serving food and helping to sell crafts. MacBurnie noted that Protzenko and Chamberlain started cooking food on Thursday for Sunday’s event.

In the gymnasium, about 20 vendors sold a wide range of craft items that included Alpaca products, photography, and Christmas ornaments.

“I spent all day making these hand-dipped candles and they’re beautiful. Look at them,” said Ewan Mikolajczuk of E’s Bees Apiary, standing in front of the gymnasium’s stage holding a golden candle that smelled like honey. “It’s a good product for the holidays. People love honey,” he said. Elsewhere, local radio personality Bobby “Bobby C” Campbell raffled off signed Tom Brady and Patrice Bergeron jerseys, benefiting his local sports program, “F.C. Varsity Sports Report.”

“I’ve been having very good success. I started with 400 tickets, and we’re down to 50 left,” Campbell said. Looking ahead, Protzenko said organizers “hope to make it an annual thing.”

You can reach Andy Castillo

at: acastillo@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 263

On Twitter: @AndyCCastillo