Experience Tradition at the Annual Craftsmen’s Fair

This annual event from the League of NH Craftsmen is an 89-year favorite
League Fair 2021 Fairgrounds

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 89th 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.

The fair returns to the idyllic setting of the Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury, where attendees can soak in the inspiring work of the craftsmen and enjoy delicious food provided by specialty food vendors, such as Thai, wood-fired pizza and smoothies, as well as new food and beverage offerings by the Mount Sunapee Resort.

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.

Organizers have also seamlessly blended the annual artisan offerings that draw many thousands of visitors with renewed efforts to introduce young hearts and minds to the League. Special activities and offerings for all ages are guaranteed to add to the joy of each family’s visit to the fair.

“Just as our members use a process to turn raw materials into unique and beautiful works, the year-round work at the League is focused on expanding our mentoring efforts to create new paths to membership and recruiting the next generation of artisans to lend their creativity and raw talent to this community,” explains Miriam Carter, Executive Director of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. “We want the fair to reflect these efforts. Our ‘Kids Create!’ Tent, for example, is for youth to get their hands into our world and use a wide variety of materials to create their own work of art. Frequently, it’s experiences like these that inspire a young mind to pursue a life-long path of creativity.”

This year, the fair will feature more than 300 exhibitors, the Art, Craft & Design and Sculpture Garden Exhibitions, and opportunities to watch members demonstrate and learn more about the processes that go into creating beautiful handmade items in a variety of mediums.

It will also feature several newly juried member exhibitor booths, new demonstrations including young demonstrators in their Next Generation tent, free and low cost workshops, numerous food options for visitors and the chance for young people to explore the fair in a new way. Children can join the ‘Craft Clues’ Scavenger Hunt, where kids follow a color-coded fair map and answer questions about each special location to complete the activity. If they collect all the answers, they will go to the ‘Kids Create!’ tent, where they can choose a handmade prize created especially for this activity by one of the craftsmen. Each child who wishes to participate in the ‘Craft Clues’ scavenger hunt will be given a worksheet and a participation button when they enter at the ticket gate. 

If you’re ready to make your first (or your 50th) visit to the fair this year, you can expect nine days of shopping, events and several acres full of locally-made crafts to enjoy. From August 6-14, 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.

 Tickets are available online at nhcrafts.org. Online ticket holders will experience a shorter time in line, and quick movement through the gates. Ticket revenue helps the League support members by assisting in funding their efforts to learn marketing skills, continue to refine their craft and connect with the public. 

Categories: Guide to Summer, Things to Do