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Founder hopes revived craft fair grows

Lisa Sullivan of Holyoke examines bird houses made from gourds and handpainted by Virginia Weiner of Granby. Both Sullivan and Weiner were vendors at Saturday's Crafts Are Us fair held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield. Recorder/Trish Crapo

Lisa Sullivan of Holyoke examines bird houses made from gourds and handpainted by Virginia Weiner of Granby. Both Sullivan and Weiner were vendors at Saturday's Crafts Are Us fair held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield. Recorder/Trish Crapo

GREENFIELD — The woman who revived the Crafts Are Us craft fair at the Franklin County Fairgrounds this past weekend is hoping her sister, with help from her, can make it grow over the next three years.

“We did well this year,” said Bette Sokoloski. “It wasn’t as good as we would eventually like to see it, but for the first year holding it since 1993, we’re happy.”

Sokoloski ran 17 craft fairs from 1989 to 1993 at the local fairgrounds, at the fairgrounds in Northampton, and at the armory in Greenfield.

She said her sister, Karen Towle, came to her recently and asked if she could revive the craft fair.

“I told her she could and that I would be her consultant,” said Sokoloski. “Karen is pleased with the results of the first fair.”

Sokoloski said she doesn’t know how many people attended the one-day craft fair on Saturday, but said there was a small, steady stream all day.

The two women collected nonperishable food items for the Franklin Area Survival Center in Montague, and they took donations of money, as well.

“We raised $260 and between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds of food,” she said.

Sokoloski said 87 vendors participated. She and Towle hope that number creeps up each year.

Vendors sold everything from jewelry to bags and scarves, suncatchers to blown glass and gourd art, and quilts and baskets.

Sokoloski said most vendors came from the region, but others came from as far away as Florida, South Carolina, Virginia and Maine.

“We’re going to do it again this fall,” said Sokoloski, who said the date has been set for Sept. 28.

“This year we are benefiting the survival center and next year we’ll pick something else,” she said.

She said she and Towle used the fees from vendors to pay all of the expenses associated with the craft fair. She said they used the money donated for charity.

There was no admission to get into the craft fair.

“We hope to get to 200 vendors within the next three years,” she said. “And we’d love to see the place packed with people.”

Sokoloski said Towle also plans to hold a holiday craft fair on Nov. 16.

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