Craft fairs may never be the same again.
Not Your Grandma’s Craft Fair, which is the brainchild of Jessica Gilcreast and Heather Marr, will be held on Saturday, Nov. 12, at McDonough Elementary School in Manchester. When the two friends conceived the idea last spring, they had no idea how it would turn out. Their goal was to gather, in a single room, all of the area’s talented people creating handmade alternative crafts.
“Now that doesn’t mean there won’t be traditional crafting,” Gilcreast said. “We have someone doing quilting and another doing crochet. Those are age-old products but they do them with a twist. They’re updated, funky and interesting.”
They envisioned hosting about 48 vendors in the school’s gymnasium. But after posting the idea on Etsy, a popular crafting website, they quickly changed their minds. Interest was so high, from crafters all around New Hampshire and Maine, that they had to cap the total at 73 vendors. The craft fair will now occupy both the gymnasium and the cafeteria.
“Our first criterion was that it had to be handmade,” Gilcreast said. “So if someone was selling Mary Kay or Tupperware, we would turn them away. But most people got what we were trying to accomplish. … We did put some people on a waiting list if they were selling a similar product to another vendor who applied first. We wanted diversity.”
Some of the vendors are people, like Gilcreast and Harr, who do crafts in their spare time for the love of it. But others are professionals with exciting track records.
“We have so many unique vendors, like Inkprint Letterpress, who makes all of her paper wares on an original 1920 Chandler & Price 2,000-pound letterpress named Bertha,” Gilcreast wrote in a follow up email. “Or VClampwork, who creates cremation beads and was just featured on [New Hampshire] Chronicle, and The Write Stuff, whose wares were chosen to be gifted to celebrities at the 2012 Golden Globes.”
The Write Stuff is owned by Kelly Mitchell of Deerfield. Her Alice in Wonderland Book Purse will be featured at the L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., in January, and handmade book wallets will be given to all celebrities who attend the Golden Globes.
“Imagine a little New Hampshire craft shop is now going to Hollywood,” Gilcreast wrote. “Honeydew Studios will also be featured on HGTV and our vendor Elegantly Eclectic has been chosen to add her beaded coffee scoops to the celebrity gift bags at the Oscars!”
Besides redefining what can be expected at a craft fair, the two women wanted to raise money for the community. So they thought about what they were passionate about. Harr and Gilcreast met through the Policeman’s Wives Association, of which Gilcreast was a past president. The association raises money to fund college scholarships for police officers’ kids. After expenses, all money from booth fees (vendors were charged $50) will go toward those scholarships.
“It all just fell into place,” said Gilcreast of organizing the event. “It started off as a vision and turned into its own animal. We saw a need for this but we didn’t know if others felt the same way. It seems like they do and they really grabbed onto the idea.”
Jamie Feinberg of Not Your Mom’s Musical Theater felt a connection with the organization and volunteered to provide some entertainment. Gilcreast said they will have a full day of musical performances including two unplugged bands. There will also be a live demonstration on the craft of spinning wool into yarn, as well as a vendor, Who Doesn’t Want That, who will add any personal photo to one of their original tote bags.
There will also be food. The Trinity High School basketball team will be offering full concessions and the money earned will go toward its basketball program. The Animal Shelter will be hosting a bake sale and all vendors donated an item to the McDonough Elementary School table. Proceeds will go to the school.
“It will be family-friendly fun and an entertaining afternoon,” Gilcreast said. “It is a great chance to buy New Hampshire-made wares. Oh yes, there will be face painting too. It will be a nice day out on a fall weekend.”