On September 24, 2014

Chester Craft Fair celebrates 40 years

CHESTER – Marking its 40th year, Chester’s Fall Festival on the Green drew in large crowds to browse the crafts, sample the food, and relax in the beer garden.

Nancy Rugg, one of the festival’s organizers, said she has been involved for the past three years. She said planning begins in winter. “We’re compiling a list of vendors and we send out a list,” she said. “We start around the first of February. Applications should be in by April 1. We get about 60 vendors, and many repeaters. Usually we’re 90 percent full by the beginning of summer.”

Besides art, crafts, and specialty Vermont foods, the event attracted authors looking to entice readers.

“It’s a little slow right now,” said former Vermont Public Radio commentator Steve Delaney, who has written three novels and a book of reflections on Vermont’s seasons, and compared the event to the annual Bookstock festival in Woodstock.

Kathleen Bonnez brought her memoir, “A Lone Star in the Green Mountains.” She said that Bill Reed, co-owner of the Misty Valley bookstore, had invited her to the festival.

Bonnez said her familiarity with Vermont goes back more than 30 years.

“I went to the School for International Training in Brattleboro,” she said. “I kept coming back to Vermont, and I kept visiting this area,” she said, referring to central Windsor County. “I was fortunate to come back here and write the book. I fell in love with the place all over again.”

The event attracted people from far and near.

Connie Wool and her husband, Marvin, came up from Townshend.

“We thought we’d eat at the Free Range,” Wool said, referring to Chester’s newest restaurant. “It’s fun to walk around and see everything.”

Joann Gaffron-Hargrove, of Springfield, displayed her special style, which she likes to call “reverse painting.”

“It’s the exact opposite of canvas,” she said. “You paint on the back of the glass. The details go on first. If you want to touch something up later, you can’t. You have to start the whole thing over.”

Painting in this way gives a three-dimensional look to Gaffron-Hargrove’s work, which were mostly still lifes, animals, and forest scenes. Her more ambitious works, painted on windows, range from landscapes and outdoor scenes to still life and the fanciful, such as mermaids sunning themselves on an ocean rock.

“The technique is hundreds of years old,” she said. “You see it in the Asian countries. People told me they’ve received reverse paintings from their grandmothers.”

Glassblower Lada Bohac showcased the delicate art of creating glass figurines from the Czech Republic, his native country.

“I like to make glass,” he said. “I’ll make everything from little animals to big bowls and chandeliers. All my work is done by hand.”

Rugg said the festival strives for new vendors every year. “We try to have different demonstrators in,” she said. “We like different types of vendors for the sake of variety.”

For more information visit chesterfallfestival.org.

By Stephen Seitz

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