By Brian Swartz
Weekly Staff Editor
BREWER — After bringing a craft fair to the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor on Nov. 2-3, the United Maine Craftsmen has scheduled its 39th Annual Thanksgiving Arts and Crafts Show to be held Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at the Brewer Auditorium on Wilson Street. Admission is $2 per person.
Fair hours will be:
• 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 29;
• 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30;
• 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 1.
Shoppers can expect to find a good cross-section of the craft skills offered by the UMC’s 450 members, according to UMC President Althea Boyle. She is a Belgrade resident and artist who owns Mainely Pets.
Approximately 124 UMC members participated in the Bangor show, she indicated. The organization annually schedules eight craft fairs. “The largest is in August at the Cumberland Fairgrounds [in Cumberland] with 200 artisans,” Boyle said.
The Brewer craft fair is the year’s sixth; 52 United Maine Craftsmen members will be present. The organization’s last 2013 fair, the Christmas Magic Arts and Crafts Show, will be held Dec. 14 at the Westbrook Middle School in Westbrook.
United Maine Craftsmen mails craft fair applications to its members each February. Vendors are accepted pretty much on a first-come, first-served basis if you are a [UMC] member, Boyle said.
The Bangor show, which drew a steady crowd, was a balanced show, she explained. To ensure a good representation of the artisan skills of members, only up to 12 percent of any craft category was exhibited at the show, Boyle explained.
Now in our 44th year, United Maine Craftsmen started with 60 crafters at the Cumberland Fairgrounds, she said. Each craft fair “is an opportunity for us to sell our crafts; this organization has helped them [members] to grow their businesses over the years,” she said. “It’s so important to keep the money in the state and not support the big boxes, which don’t support us [Maine residents].”
Boyle started making and painting her exquisite glassware — Christmas ornaments, soap dispensers, wine glasses, salt and pepper shakers, and other products — 22 years ago. “I’ve always been an artist, although I have a degree in zoology from [the University of Maine at] Orono,” she said. By developing her craft business, Boyle was able to stay home with her children and participate in their school activities.
Although the Bangor craft fair represented “a lot of hard work for all of us,” Boyle looked forward to the fair. “These shows are good for networking with other crafters and seeing old friends you haven’t seen since the year before,” she said.
“We’re all very hard workers,” Boyle said. “We have fun, too. We make lifelong friends.”
United Maine Craftsmen members can exhibit at nonorganization craft fairs. By year’s end, “I still have five craft fairs and some commissioned works to do,” Boyle said on Nov. 2.
For information about United Maine Craftsmen, call 621-2818, email email@example.com, go to unitedmainecraftsmen.com, or follow the organization on Facebook.