BERLIN - Many people made their way to the Berlin Congregational Church Saturday to check out four rooms of unique handcrafted items at the 90th annual Yankee Peddler Craft Fair.
“I love being here and the fair involves the whole church,” said the church’s pastor, Pamela Rose Vollenger, who grew up as a parishioner. “Everyone likes the idea of having vendors come in and the vendors are happy to share their gifts.”
About a decade ago, fair Co-Chairwoman Tina Gagner recalled, the church began to rent spaces to vendors at the craft fair to raise money.
Additionally, a decision was made to have the fair focus on handcrafted items, or items decorated by hand, she said.
The rooms were filled with vendors and crafters, accompanied by a silent auction and bake sale, said Jeannette McAllister, who is head deacon at the church and is a member of the church’s advertising and publicity committee.
The vendors were chosen through an application process, McAllister said, adding that the church “had to turn away some vendors because we ran out of space.”
Each of the 32 tables featured a vendor who sold handmade, artisanal items, said Jane Watershoot of the church’s outreach committee, who noted that the items make perfect Christmas presents.
“The customers at this craft fair prefer personal items over store-bought items,” Watershoot said. “They can really find unique gifts here. Everything is handcrafted and made by the vendors.”
It took about eight months to organize the fair and bring together the vendors, who were from all over the state, including Berlin, said Linda Tencza, another member of the advertising and publicity committee.
The silent auction included baskets of sweets, dog toys and a variety of items put together by church members, McAllister said. Some of the proceeds from the auction and craft fair, she added, are going to be used to rebuild the church’s kitchen, which was damaged during a strom about two years ago.
Vollenger said, “When it is fixed, we hope to have more ministries using the kitchen.”
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