Experience Tradition at the Annual Craftsmen's Fair

This annual event from the League of NH Craftsmen is an 85-year favorite

Visitors can browse acres of artisans' booths at the annual Craftsmen's Fair.

Photo courtesy of Sullivan Creative

Summers in New Hampshire are often punctuated by weekend trips to the Seacoast or the mountains for laidback summer fun. But what if you'd like your trek to be more pilgrimage than party?

That's exactly what's offered by a visit this August to the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's 85th Annual Craftsmen's Fair.

Held at Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury, the fair has been an important journey for artists and art lovers in New Hampshire for more than eight decades. Around 25,000 visitors come to the fair each year, and more than a third come from outside the Granite State.

In addition to the physical pilgrimage required to get to the event — the resort, while only 45 minutes northwest of Concord, is perched on a 2,700-foot mountain — a trip to the fair instills in visitors a keen awareness of the history of which they're becoming a part. The event is the oldest continually running craft fair in the United States and, with 200 participating artists per year, a huge community of creatives have made it a crucial part of their lives and careers.

Visitors have the unique opportunity to talk with the artisans while they shop, allowing them to take in the stories behind the art and take home items that will be far more than a decoration to toss on the mantel.

"Our 85th fair is a milestone for us," says Miriam Carter, executive director of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. "We are so grateful for our outstanding craftspeople and all of the people who have attended and supported us through the years, which has made the fair the event of the summer. Spending a day at the fair truly helps you understand how fine craft enriches our lives through wearing it or bringing it into our homes."

Interacting with the artisans of the Craftsmen's Fair is a great way for everyday folks to get in on the rich tradition of New Hampshire craftsmanship. In addition to chatting with artists and purchasing goods at the artisans' booths, you can also purchase tickets for daily "lunch-and-learn" discussion events with the artisans or watch a select few live at work in demonstration booths. Particularly adventurous visitors can even try their hand at a few crafts themselves — everything from glass-blowing to printmaking is available at "Make It Yourself" workshops throughout the fair. 

If you're ready to make your first (or your 50th) visit to the fair this year, you can expect nine days of shopping and events, daily live music and several acres full of locally-made crafts to enjoy. From August 4-12, trade an aimless day trip to the beach for a trip to a historical event that will bring art into your home and community into your heart.

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