The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Denise Kirk, a newly juried member who is also part of the League of NH’s staff, at the Hooksett gallery. She runs “CraftWear” at the fair, which spans Aug. 5 through Aug. 13. Kelly Sennott photo.

League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair

Where: Saturday, Aug. 5, through Sunday, Aug. 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
When: Mount Sunapee Resort, 1398 Route 103, Newbury
Admission: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, active military and groups of 20 or more, free for children 12 and younger
Details: See pieces made by League of NH Craftsmen, watch master craftsmen demonstrations (in printmaking, glass blowing, jewelry making, blacksmithing, ceramics, weaving, etc.), take part in hands-on workshops (for adults, teens and children, in printmaking, pottery, sculpture plus “Tools for Kids,” at which kids can learn to use early American tools like planes, lathes and drills) and enjoy live music by New England performers on select days. In addition to tents featuring work by the craftsmen, there will be three exhibitions showcasing wearable art and fine craft for the home and garden in “CraftWear,” “Living With Craft” and “Sculpture Garden.” In addition, the Mount Washington Cog Railway hosts an on-site display of the historic Peppersass Cog Railway train engine, the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway train engine. “Steampunk Day at the Fair” is Friday, Aug. 11, during which guests dressed in steampunk outfits will receive $1 off admission and be entered in a best-dressed contest. 

Mind-blowing event
Kirk on readying for League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair

By Kelly Sennott

 For Denise Kirk, the League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair in Sunapee is kind of like Christmas.

Kirk, a Queen City resident, is both a juried member specializing in felting and a member of the League’s full-time staff, which involves tasks ranging from running the Hooksett gallery to managing the CraftWear exhibition at the fair, which runs from Aug. 5 through Aug. 13 this year. 
Kirk was at the fairgrounds a couple weeks before its start for setup, so she saw some of the work before anyone else — which, for a lover of fine craft, is very exciting. But just like the holidays, the fair can get stressful. It’s the biggest event of the year for most juried craftspeople, who’ve spent the better part of it building inventory. Most summers it attracts more than 20,000 shoppers. When things get overwhelming, staff are advised to remember why they’re there. 
“If [staff] are feeling overwhelmed or feeling frantic, we say, just go out to the tents. Go out and feel that energy, and then you’ll remember why we’re here. We’re here for the craftsmen, to support the organization in whatever way we can,” Kirk said during an interview at the Hooksett gallery, located at the Interstate 93 rest stop. 
Kirk is a lifelong admirer of the League. She remembers going to the fair with her family and being in awe of the work even as a kid. Her mom taught her to knit, but she didn’t take it seriously until about 10 years ago, while looking for something to fill her time while her sons played sports. 
But it wasn’t until Kirk joined the League of NH headquarters staff about two years ago that she found the encouragement to try to become juried in. She got her stamp of approval in March and is one of a few full-time staff who are also juried members.
Kirk’s felted bags and bowls will decorate the fair’s exhibitions, and she’ll manage CraftWear, which contains traditional and avant-garde jewelry and handcrafted clothing and accessories. 
Most of her pieces are bright and colorful, accessorized with beads or eclectic buttons purchased wherever she can find them — consignment stores, clearance racks and from craftsmen clearing out their workspaces. She uses two strands when she knits, which makes the bags durable, sometimes with ribbon yarn to add a bit of shimmer. 
Kirk’s love of color in part stems from her studies at The Art Institute of Boston, where she studied photography.
“Everyone [at school] loved my stuff so much better in color. I see more in color than in black and white,” she said.
She’s excited and honored to take part in the fair for the first time as a juried artist.
“I think everybody should come to the fair and experience it because it’s incredible. To realize there are that many craftspeople that do that great of work in this small area, I think it’s mind-blowing,” she said. “We actually have people that move to the area so they can be in the League.”

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