As the calendar year winds to a close, so does the season for craft fairs – but not before the Franklin County Technical school gets to host their annual Little Drummer Craft Fair.  

Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan visited the school in Turners Falls to attend the event, which not only benefits the vendors, but also the school and its students. 

Meet vendor Alice Gear and learn about her company’s unique name in a digital exclusive interview. 

Read the full transcription:

Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: In general, signs like this one tend to get driven past and unnoticed by about 10 to 15 cars for every one car that turns to follow it — maybe even more. But the event taking place on Saturday, November 19th here in Turners Falls at the Franklin County Technical School, seemed to be throwing that statistical model out the window.

I’ve actually lost count of the number of times I’ve driven past the sign for a crafts fair. In fact, I’ve never been to a crafts fair in my entire life.

Known as the Little Drummer Craft Fair, it got its start at the Holy Trinity School in Greenfield over a decade ago as part of the Candy Cane Carnival. When that school closed, a relative of the Greenfield organizer who ran the music program here at the tech school took it over, and used the fair as a means to raise money for the program’s drum line.

Barbara Williams, Franklin County Technical School: So, we did that — all the drum line kids helped out organizing, working at the fair, and all the money — all the proceeds raised — went towards that particular music program.

Unfortunately, the music program closed down, so we decided that any proceeds were going to go to the Franklin County Tech School students as scholarships.

Brian Sullivan: This juried fair features countless vendors scattered throughout the gymnasium, as well as down the hallway leading to the lunchroom. It’s a fun and friendly gathering that allows the visitors to browse and purchase and the vendors to sell and socialize.

Alice Gear, Colchis Forge: More than anything, it’s just nice to get to see a lot of people who can actually engage with your own art, and you get a sense of what people are interested in and you get to discuss what you make with them.

You get to find out what kind of things really appeal, especially in terms of, like, people wanting to learn the craft and know more about the nuts and bolts of what goes into it. And that’s always really fun to get to actually just engage people about that, because you can’t get that if you’re sitting at home in your studio.

Brian Sullivan: And apparently, there’s no age restriction on who can set up a booth, as this nine-year-old young man proves. This is his third craft fair. And he gave us a nice little rundown on how he puts together his wood art.

Luke Gancz, Halifax, VT: I make a list of all these pictures I want printed, and then I cover all the scrap boards with acrylic gel medium, or polyurethane, And then I put the picture upside down on it. So, the paper is facing up, the plain paper, and I let that dry for 12 to 24 hours.

And then, I rub it off with a wet cloth. And then I — after that dries for a little bit, I sand around it to make it look like it’s blending in. And then I oil the whole board.

Brian Sullivan: In keeping with the original theme of raising money for school programs, the welding shop gets in on the action every year as well.

John Passiglia, Franklin County Technical School: We teach all kinds of welding, all forms of welding, and we like to have a little bit of fun and raise a little bit of money for our program, so we make some of these projects for the craft fair.

So, this is all student made projects and some of its stick welding, some of it’s MIG welded, and it’s all in sheet metal and fabrication, and we make things for the craft fair that help benefit our program so we could buy shirts and go on field trips and stuff.

Brian Sullivan: Of course, it’s also a chance to get some shopping done. For vendors and patrons alike, this may be the one time per year that they get to cross paths, so it’s also a chance to establish relationships.

Paul Blais, Vermont Wood Turning: Most of the people are either buying Christmas presents for themselves or they’re — they’re out here, and, you know, I’ve had more people — because this is my second year — stop by and say, “Oh, I’m glad you’re here! Because I bought one last year for, you know, my friend and I want to buy more of them for my family now.”

Barbara Williams: It’s just an amazing fair. I’m just so thrilled that it turns people a good profit, especially this time of year. Some — one vendor told me this is her Christmas. This is how she takes care of Christmas at home.

These people, I believe they walk away with a good amount of money, and that’s what I want them. I want them to come back next year.