GUILFORD – Over 175 artisans will descend upon the town green this weekend to present and sell their work at the annual Guilford Craft Expo.
Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors. Active military, members of the Guilford Arts Center, and anyone 16 and under are free. There is also a multiday pass available for $15. The event will be held rain or shine from Friday through Sunday, and the show benefits programming for the arts center.
Ticket sales support the Guilford Arts Center, said arts center Executive Director Maureen Belden, who has been participating in the expo since 2005.
The Guilford Craft Expo started in 1957 when local crafters decided to do a show on the green.
“They put up a tent and sold their wares,” she said. “People loved it so much they continued to do it year after year after year. … Ten years after the first craft expo in 1967, the same group of individuals decided to get together to form a nonprofit and opened the Guilford Arts Center, which was known as the Handcraft Center.”
Belden said about 9,000 people attended the expo last year following a hiatus due to COVID-19, but she expects closer to 6,000 people over the course of the three-day event this year.
Vendors come from all over the country, she said, with many hailing from the Northeast and 35 of them from Connecticut. Vendors will be selling a variety of arts and crafts, including clay, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, fine art, clothes and wood.
A food court will also be available near the corner of Park and Boston streets. Food vendors include Mamoun’s Falafel Cart of New Haven, Fire in the Kitchen Pizza of Clinton, Soulfully Vegan of West Hartford and Tacos Flores of Guilford.
Music acts performing throughout the weekend include classic rock cover band Replay and fiddle group Skunk Misery Ramblers.
Artists will be participating in a daily silent auction on the Whitfield side of the green, Belden said, with proceeds going to the Guilford Arts Center’s scholarship program. And an arts and crafts tent will be set up for children.
“It’s a great community event,” she said. “When I moved here in 2005, this was the first thing everyone told me about in town. This is an amazing thing to have in this town annually. It’s so well supported by the community. People love it. It’s very energizing. It’s very inspiring. It’s part of our mission to inspire people, and also to support the artists.”
First Selectman Matthew Hoey said the Guilford Craft Expo, also known as the Guilford Fair, is one of the larger events held in town.
“It draws an awful lot of folk in the town,” he said. “It’s always an increased opportunity for the shops in town to benefit.”
Hoey said the expo’s long-standing tradition and reputation has helped draw vendors from all over the country.
“I was talking to a gentleman last year who was from Washington, D.C.,” he said, adding he still looks forward to seeing work from local artists.
Genmarie Stiber, of Cleveland, Ohio, said she is setting up shop at the expo for the first time this year with her business of 33 years, Roots Plant Rooters, featuring mixed media window displays. Two years ago, she decided to take her business on the crafts fair circuit.
“I’ve never been up here before,” she said. “It’s beautiful up here. … You never know who you’re talking to, that’s what I like about it. I have made friends doing these shows that I keep in contact with all year long.”