With pleasant conditions expected for this Memorial Day weekend, the South Coastal Delaware AARP Chapter is hoping for another successful turnout for the Millville Fire Hall on Saturday, as they host the Fifth Annual Artisans Fair on May 26, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. This year, 42 artisans and crafters will feature their creations in one of the chapter’s largest and most successful events of the year.
Items in the show will cover a wide range of arts and crafts, including unique paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery, apparel, ceramics, wood crafts, metalwork and more. Admission for guests is free and, for the first time, gelato will be available to those in attendance. An auction featuring works from participating crafters and artists will be held in the afternoon, too.
Proceeds from this event will help fund the chapter’s scholarships for children and adults throughout the region. Earlier this week, two Indian River High School seniors – Rachel Jackson and Kelsey Oli – each received a $1,500 scholarship. Later this season, two $500 scholarships will be awarded at Delaware Tech to a student or students who are 25 or older and who meet qualifications set by the South Coastal Delaware AARP Chapter.
“We want to achieve three things with this event,” said Ione Phillips, chairperson of the event and the AARP chapter. “First, we want to provide a showcase for talented artisans from the area. Second, we want to support our young people, because we understand that they represent the future of our area and the nation. Third, we want to support adults who find the need for more education in order to compete in this challenging job market.”
The juried artisans fair, which draws quality crafters from Maryland, Delaware and surrounding states throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, will welcome back some repeat favorites, as well as newcomers to the event.
For sculptor Robert Johnson and his wife, Sarah Halcott, this will be their fourth time at the Millville Artisans Fair, which is just one of the numerous events that they attend each year to present their ceramics, which include decorative bottles to functional mugs and bowls. The two found a hobby in sculpting and ceramics, which eventually turned into a profession.
“Our main goal with the Millville Fire Hall show,” said Johnson, who teaches ceramics along with Halcott at Salisbury University, “is to show people in the area the kind of work we can create. It’s nice to be able to give people something local.” More of their work and bios can be found at www.amusedstudios.org.
For Darlene Musitano, the Fifth Annual Millville Artisans Fair will be her second go-around at the event. While particularly known for her handbags, wine bags and accessory items, she plans to feature her “crab bags” this year.
“It’s a canvas, cylindrical bag that can hold a roll of paper towels,” she explained, “and around the perimeter there are pockets for six crab mallets. Each has a blue crab embroidered on it, and they come in various colors. It’s a perfect summer gift for anyone who enjoys their seafood.”
Musitano has been sewing all her life, and along with fellow seamstress Carol Quinto – who will also be at the Millville Artisans Fair – helps put together the annual Ocean Pines (Md.) Craft Club fair every November.
“The shows are wonderful,” said Musitano. “Of course, selling your product is a motivating factor, but what I really like is when someone sees your work and tells you it’s beautiful and you’ve done such a good job.”
Sheila Dawe’s one-of-a-kind “she-caps” put a feminine twist on baseball caps, with decorative pins and vintage jewelry sewn onto the brims.
“I started doing it a few years ago for myself,” she noted, “and friends would compliment me. I like to bring something different and show that you can wear a cap no matter what the season, and show it’s a fashion statement.”
Dawe will be making her debut at the Millville Artisans Fair, but she is no stranger to the area. She participated last summer in a craft show in Ocean Pines and even brought her creations to Millville’s Great Pumpkin Festival last fall.
Underwater and nature photographer Mary Lou Pool will also be making her debut this weekend at the Millville fair.
“The shows are nice to get some more exposure,” she said. “Nature has always been my main inspiration for my work, and I’ve done a fair amount of traveling. And underwater, you really get to see things that are truly unique. It opens your world in so many ways.”
Pool has been a part of the shows held by the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company’s auxiliary, as well as a number of craft fairs in Maryland.
“It’s great to have more exposure,” she said. “It lets people know what my work is about, but I love talking to fellow photographers, too, about what they do, and their cameras.”
Marilyn Appel, a member of the South Coastal Delaware AARP, noted that the show brings out more and more curious attendants each summer and beckons more participating artisans every year, too.
“There are a lot of people who love coming back,” she said, “and we like bringing new faces in, too. We try to bring in more intricate art. The show really sparks a lot of excitement from the artisan community.”
This year, the South Coastal AARP is getting a hand from local Boy Scouts, too, who will be helping set up and breaking down the show.
Ione Phillips, director of the event, said she enjoys the mix of artists that come each year but is also very proud of what the fair allows for the AARP’s scholarship funds.
“It’s so nice to be able to give back to the younger generation in the community,” she said. “We identify the need that a student has, and over the years, we’ve been able to increase the amount that we give back through our scholarships.”
The South Coastal Delaware AARP chapter plans to stay involved in the community this year with bake sales around town.
For more information about this Saturday’s Fifth Annual Millville Artisans Fair, contact Marilyn Appel at (302) 829-8546 or Ione Phillips at (302) 539-2172.