Vendors gather for 54th annual Arts and Craft fair

The Geese & Bear Club’s 54th annual Arts and Craft fair took place on the Huntington Green June 3.

The fair had approximately 70 vendors with a range of goods from doll clothes to local honey. Jim Nissen, exhibitor coordinator, said that the goods are divided into categories and are limited to three per category in order to keep a diverse spread.

“If you have three people with leather belts, no one is making money, and [it is] the same with baskets or paintings. The crafters wouldn’t be happy,” Nissen said. “By breaking it up into categories, we get a lot a quality people.”

All of the vendors enjoyed showing off their hard work, including Angie Toth, a Shelton High senior, who was excited to be displaying her paintings and jewelry in her first crafts show.

“I have been trying to sell my art for a while and I never had the push to do it,” Toth said. “Since it’s my senior year and the summer before I go to college, I figured this would be a perfect time to go to some fairs. It’s a whole new learning experience for me.”

The mother and daughter duo, Bonnie and Amanda Meyerle, from City Slime Company, showed their numerous types of slime, including lavender butter slime.  

“I saw some YouTube videos [of slime making] and I just wanted to do it. I first add the Elmer’s Glue and add of the extras, like glitter or food coloring, then I add baking soda and contact solution,” Meyerle said. “My favorite is the crunchy slime and I like the lavender, peppermint and pineapple [fragrances].”

Jon Chernack from Everything in a Mug was immensely proud of all of his mugs that he created from scratch.  

“We make [the mugs] on a pot’s wheel one mug at a time. I find it to be very therapeutic. Once I started doing it, it just felt really good to be in the clay and water and to create something from nothing,” Chernack said. “We have teacups, coffee mugs, vases, boatmugs [which have a wider bottom to prevent spilling] dipping dishes, spoon rests and sponge holders for a sink. No one likes to do dishes but, it makes it better.”  

Patti Heyl, former beekeeper from Sport Hill Honey Farm, liked being able to find new ways to use beeswax after discovering her allergy to bee venom. Her new passion is creating beeswax illuminaries, she said.  

“Each beeswax luminaries is handcrafted and unique. I put dried pressed botanicals [such as] leaves and flowers. Each one comes with a tealight and a candle holder,” Heyl said. “I try to be creative because of my allergy, I will not be doing honey anymore so I was looking for alternatives.”

Michelle Kahn, co-owner of Mama’s Garden, created organic skincare that avoids using any preservatives or chemicals that would help avoid allergic reactions, she said. Their speciality is that they use good quality products in small batches.

“We only use essential oils [for fragrance instead of the more common synthesized fragrance oils.] It’s a huge range. Everything from rose and lavender to lemongrass,” Kahn said. “My favorite soap of mine is lemon poppyseed. I like the exfoliating in them and it’s my two favorite scents.”

Nate Wozniak, The Carver, beams over his wood carved bird houses and statues. He prefers to work with cedar because it tends not to rot and can last up to 20 years, he said.   

“I have always been into craving and one day, I gave it a shot and now it’s my full time gig. A lot of detail and time went into them, [like] the owls statues [took] about 15 hours,” Wozniak said. “I use an industrial drying machine to take all the moisture out of the wood which makes them look brand new and shiny. People can tell that I made them with a little bit of love.”

In addition to helping local businesses get publicity and profits, The Geese & Bear Club, the alum group for the Shelton Jaycees, tries to find new members for the non-profit community group and to keep the alum connected to their roots.  

“The goal of the fair is to direction people to the Jaycees’ website and their Facebook. Their goal is to get 20 members in their 20s-30s, Nissen said. “It’s a great way to meet people and to  advance your career. I have met some great people, so many people.

Overall, Geese & Bear members enjoy keeping their beloved community traditions, no matter how old they are, Nissen said.

“I love this fair and the people who come to it,” Nissen said. “ It’s a lot of work for not a lot of money. It’s a community tradition. We built those connections, it’s a unique thing.”