Vendors, shoppers greet return of Old Deerfield arts and crafts fair

Published: 9/19/2021 8:06:19 PM

DEERFIELD — In celebration of its 45th anniversary and the return of in-person functions, the Deerfield Fall Arts and Craft Festival brought “about 100” vendors to Memorial Hall Museum’s grounds.

Show coordinator John O’Neill, who provided this estimate, said that despite ongoing pandemic concerns, the outdoor market was “mobbed” on opening day. The vendors, a congregation of artisans, craftspeople and museum booths, set up shop under event tents across the lawn, leaving wide pathways for pedestrians to wander. Aside from serving as one of the museum’s primary fundraisers, organizers, vendors and attendees saw the day as a testament to the community’s tight-knittedness and artistic fabric.

A town tradition, the festival is beyond the point of trying to gain notoriety, O’Neill said.

“It’s a social gathering place,” O’Neill said. “This is our 45th year, so we’re known. This is something people look forward to.”

O’Neill said that after a year where the festival couldn’t happen due to COVID-19 restrictions, people were even more excited to come in 2021. He said he’d observed “increased enthusiasm on the part of the vendors and the public” throughout the weekend for this reason.

Terri Dodge, an Erving resident who said she’d been attending the festival for “at least 15 years” with her daughter Jennifer, said she’s glad to be back after feeling the absence of the event in 2020.

“It’s a great way to celebrate the beginning of Fall,” she said. “As a lover of seasons who frequently decorates for the seasons, it was sad … It’s good to be back.”

Becky Huntington, a quilter from Milton, embraced the seasonal theme of the festival with a selection of festive quilts bearing fall colors and holiday prints. Having participated in the festival “between 10 and 15 years,” she’s appreciated the organic feel of the environment.

“The venue and what I do sort of fit together. It’s old-fashioned,” she said. “It’s not a harsh concrete floor like a convention center. It’s got its own ambiance to it.”

“It makes you feel homey,” Dodge said. “It makes you feel part of New England.”

In addition to providing a comfortable atmosphere for locals, the festival helps maintain a beloved town staple by funding Memorial Hall Museum.

“This is one of our major fundraisers,” O’Neill said. “It supports our museum, it supports our children’s museum, and it supports our educational programs.”

In the moment on a sunny day with a cool breeze sweeping through the aisles, the festival also simply serves to be a good time.

“People are so thrilled to be here,” O’Neill said.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected].