Barre festival attracts shoppers seeking Vt.-made waresAnthony Edwards / Staff Photos
People shop at the Laughing Waters Silver Jewelry booth, above, during the Greater Barre Craft Guild’s 33rd annual Winter Festival of Vermont Crafters. Below, shoppers throng the Barre Auditorium on Saturday.
BARRE — Shoppers crowded the Barre Auditorium on Saturday to browse an abundance of handmade and artisanal food and crafts for sale by local vendors.
The Greater Barre Craft Guild’s 33rd annual Winter Festival of Vermont Crafters drew a steady stream of holiday shoppers on the hunt for the perfect holiday gifts. Unlike many other craft shows in the state and throughout the country, the Winter Festival is free to attend.
Renee Bilodeau said she missed the last couple of winter shows but was happy to make it back this year. She chose the craft show on Saturday over shopping at a mall because of the local, handmade goods that are available.
“I like homemade crafts. I think they’re more unique,” she said.
Debbie Hill of Catamount Specialties of Vermont in Plainfield said she took over the company two years ago, but has 20 years of experience in natural foods. Her mustards, salsas, jams, and barbecue and pasta sauces were a popular draw. A steady line was in place for a chance to taste her products.
“I’ve done this show four or five times,” Hill said. “It’s a very good show. It’s local. I like to sell my products locally.”
Sales were steady in the early going on Saturday, according to Hill. “I think they are going pretty well,” she said.
Marsha Drake, a Williston-based jeweler for the past eight years, was selling her handcrafted jewelry. Her designs, she said, are inspired by Vermont’s natural landscape.
Drake said she plans to make the show a regular stop for her products because of the popularity of the event.
“Last year was my first year but I will be a regular, always. I think it’s a great show. They have great crafters here and it’s really well organized,” she said. “I love that it’s free to get in, too. I think that’s really important.”
Many shoppers Saturday were “struggling between buying presents and getting stuff for themselves,” according to Drake.
Most were in the mood to buy, though, she said.
“They do a peruse, normally, and then come back to things that they like,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of jewelry so I’m always honored when they come back.”
Lea Hatch of Northfield was one of the many shoppers lugging bags of purchased goods Saturday. Hatch arrived at noon and planned to spend much of the day at the show.
“I will be going in and out spending as much time as I can,” she said. “I have the whole day and might even come back tomorrow.”
She said was hoping to find all of her holiday gifts at the show, especially the ones “that mean the most.”
“I have come every year. I wait for this,” Hatch said. “This is where I do my shopping. I like it that it’s local. I like that it’s small businesses and I support that every way that I can.”
The show continues today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Organizers said door prizes will continue today every half hour, and a shopping spree of up to $100 will be given away.
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