From Salisbury and Berlin, Md., to Bloomsburg, Pa., from Edenton, N.C., to the west side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, artists hailing from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region will come together this Saturday at the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall on Route 26 for the 4th Annual Millville Artisans Fair. More than three dozen individuals will exhibit their crafts at the invitation-only event that promises something for everyone.
“Every year,” said Ione Phillips, chairperson of the event, “the traffic at the Artisans Fair has grown. More people are learning of it and look forward to it each summer. We get a lot of locals stopping by and plenty of people coming down for the week or weekend. A number of our artisans are second-home owners, so we have a big draw from that group, too.”
The Artisans Fair will run from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 28, and will feature unique artwork, photography, jewelry, pottery, apparel and accessories, wood and metal works, furniture and much more. Proceeds from the fair, sponsored by the South Coastal Delaware AARP chapter, provide scholarships for local high-school students.
“We want to achieve two things with this event,” said Phillips. “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.”
The show will feature plenty of returning artisans, some of whom have been with the event since its start. Others, such as Ray Secrist of Dagsboro, are just getting their feet wet in the local art scene.
“I’ve made custom furniture for people in the past,” said Secrist, who will debut his hand-crafted furniture and accessories made from mature timber native to Delaware and Pennsylvania, “but I’ve never done a show like this.” While Secrist specializes in dovetail blanket chests, he has dabbled with a variety of furniture and pieces, such as tables and cabinets, oftentimes combining several species of wood.
Gary Pearson, a metalworker out of Milford, will be showing off his ocean-inspired, hand-forged metal artwork.
“I worked for 15 years in metal fabrication, and earlier as an apprentice in a body shop,” he said. “After all that, the artwork just took off. A lot of times, I’d have junk just laying around to play with. I read about art – metal sculpturing, in particular – and it just went from there.”
Dramatic and humorous overtones, with bright colors and polished assorted metals, seem to bring life to the starfish, jellyfish, tunas and mermaids that Pearson sculpts. Some of Pearson’s highlights for this Saturday’s show include 5-foot seahorses and 10- to 12-foot marlins.
Plenty of others featuring their work at the 4th Annual Artisans Fair are local, returning favorites, including Shelby Foxwell, who specializes in handcrafted sterling silver and copper jewelry; Dorothy Harrison Braun, whose reproductions of shore scenery in watercolor capture the serene and tranquil beach life; and Isabella Makaowski, whose “flower” arrangements, using seashells and rockfish scales, combine maritime wonders into a one-of-a-kind creation.
“Because this is an invitation-only show,” said Phillips, “the level of crafts is quite high. Although their work is of high quality, though, they have affordable prices, and guests really enjoy that.”
This year, the Artisans Fair will be returning with a few new features. Hourly raffles will give guests an opportunity to win original artwork and crafts, as well as gift cards to local restaurants and other companies. An auction will give others a chance at some great deals.
The South Coastal Delaware AARP Chapter boasts more than 600 members, who will pitch together to provide home-baked goods for one of the area’s largest bake sales. Other food and drink will also be available.
“There’s really something for everyone,” said Phillips. “The bake sale is a really big hit. You can purchase something for your holiday entertaining, and it’s great to know that all of this is for a great cause.”
Admission to the show is free, and there will be plenty of free parking available, provided by the Millville fire hall and its volunteers.