Looking for an intriguing alternative to malls, chain stores, and online shopping this year? With everything from handmade scarves to fine works of art, the many fairs that pop up across Greater Boston during the holiday season offer something no algorithm can match: serendipity.
In Hudson, you’ll find everything from wooden toys to gourmet cookies at the Festival of Trees & Holiday Craft Fair at the Argeo R. Cellucci Jr. Clubhouse on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 7 and 8.
For the 60th year, the Red Bow Fair will serve up holiday greens, crafts — and a luncheon — at North Parish of North Andover Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, Dec. 7.
And Girls Rule New England will hold its first annual Holiday Craft Fair at Hancock Elementary School in Brockton on Saturday, Dec. 7.
The holiday fair season starts early. Despite an unseasonably chill wind, avid shoppers lined up Nov. 8 outside the Groveland Congregational Church as they waited to discover the treasures on display at the annual Snowflake Fair.
“The fair is a tradition. It has been around for at least 25 years,” said church member Kim Mosley of West Newbury. “It has evolved over the years and become so popular we have had to add a rented tent to accommodate more vendors.”
“People come from all over to find something unique,” said Erin Pinkham of Groveland, owner of Everyone Loves Pink’s. “I have been doing this fair for years. I have the same location at the fair each year now. People come looking for me and what I bring for sale.”
Pinkham, who calls herself a “maker,” focuses on using recycled materials and eco-friendly products. Her distinctive wares include an interesting mix of imaginative items such as key chains made from old baseball covers and jewelry boxes fashioned from cigar boxes.
Snowflake Fair vendors offer a wide range of expertise — from exquisite handmade jewelry to adorable knitted children’s hats. The prices for handmade items fit many budgets, starting at $10 for a colorful pair of fleece mittens up into the $100 range for semi-precious jewelry.
“Price is not the primary criteria for a purchase. Handmade does not mean cheap. People come looking for something special,” said Pinkham. “I put a piece of myself into everything that I create and people appreciate that. I enjoy the interaction with customers, and my customer want to know the story behind what I make.”
Weaver/designer Elizabeth Springett of Wrentham looks forward to selling at holiday fairs. A design professional who has worked in the fashion industry in New York City, Springett now has her own workspace, Woven Seas Weaving Studio in Norwood, where she creates colorful, stunning blankets, shawls, table runners, scarves, and tea towels.
“The feedback I get from meeting customers is important for me,” said Springett. “People come looking for interesting and thoughtful gifts. They appreciate meeting and talking to the artists.”
Springett’s most popular items are towels that range from $28 to $38 each. It takes her four to five hours to create a single towel.
A member of the Weavers’ Guild of Boston, Springett will display and sell woven works of art at the fifth Medfield Holiday Stroll on Friday, Dec. 6, from 4 to 9 p.m. The juried show is limited to 38 artisans, who apply for spots over the summer.
“We have limited space for artists spread over three sites downtown,” said Jean Mineo, stroll organizer and head of the Cultural Alliance of Medfield. “Unfortunately, we have to turn away many great artists. A local jury reviews the applications and invites a balance of media and new and returning artists.”
The pop-up nature of craft fairs make them exciting community events. Many, like the Medfield and Groveland fairs, are family-friendly gatherings organized by local volunteers that benefit the artists and nonprofits.
“Held in the downtown along Route 109, our event attracts a core group from Medfield, but also people from the surrounding towns, about 1,800 to 2,000 people in all,” said Mineo. “The whole weekend kicks off the holiday season with a tree lighting in Baxter Park on Friday night and a holiday parade on Saturday.”
Girls Rule New England is busy getting ready for its first craft fair at the Hancock School in Brockton.
“We have been working on the planning, recruiting vendors, and coordination since late August. A lot goes into planning and publicizing a new fair,” said Carlye Pina of Brockton, president of Girls Rule New England. “We are a brand-new nonprofit organization that works to empower young women, and we thought that this event would help us get our name out there while also supporting small businesses. We hope people will bring a friend and help support Girls Rule because it is also a fund-raiser for us.”
There will be about 30 vendor/artisans at the fair. “Among the handmade crafts for sale will be jewelry, farmhouse-inspired gifts, holiday wreaths, and we have two very different woodworkers,” Pina said. “Some of girls will be volunteering and running tables at the event.”
In Groveland last month, church volunteers happily greeted customers from across the Merrimack Valley to the Snowflake Fair, which featured tantalizing fudge samples and a popular “cookie walk” where customers could choose from an amazing variety of homemade treats.
Julie Berthiaume of Haverhill and her 10-year-old daughter, Caroline, were among the multi-generational shoppers at the Groveland fair.
Caroline admired a delicate Belleek porcelain angel Christmas ornament at the church’s “thrift shop finds table,” the colorful jewelry, and the tempting array of cookies.
Meanwhile, Groveland vendor Jill Goden of One Button Short spent the afternoon trying to keep up with selling her handmade and embroidered items and saying hello to repeat customers.
“I look forward to this fun fair all year,” Goden said while processing a credit card payment. “I have met a lot of people and I get to catch up with customers and other vendors that I see only once a year.”
FAIRS NEAR YOU:
Red Bow Fair
North Parish of North Andover Unitarian Universalist Church, 190 Academy Road.
Saturday, Dec. 7, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For 60 years, the fair has attracted crowds of enthusiastic holiday shoppers with a variety of juried crafts, silent auction, gift baskets and luncheon.
Billerica Holiday Craft Fair
Billerica Elks, 14 Webb Brook Road.
Sunday, Dec. 15, noon to 4 p.m.
Over 50 crafters and vendors will sell their wares. Raffles to benefit local families. Pictures with Santa.
Girls Rule New England
Holiday Craft Fair
Hancock Elementary School, 125 Pearl St., Brockton
Saturday, Dec. 7, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Quality handmade items. A little something for everyone on your holiday shopping list.
Holiday Craft Fair
The Bridge Center, 470 Pine St., Bridgewater
Sunday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Forty vendors sell anything from hand-woven baskets and jewelry to children’s clothes and dog
Festival of Trees
& Holiday Craft Fair
Boys & Girls Club, Argeo R. Cellucci Jr. Clubhouse, 21 Church St.,
Saturday, Dec. 7, 7:10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Nice array of handmade gifts from jewelry and candles to wooden toys and yummy treats.
Newton Holiday Fair
Newton Cultural Center at City Hall, 1000 Commonwealth Ave.
Saturday, Dec. 7, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Popular juried show and sale, offers an oasis of colorful textiles, glass, jewelry, pottery, paintings, photographs and wooden pieces by
selected New England artisans.
Linda Greenstein can be reached at email@example.com.