The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Crafts Festival Celebrates the Big 3-0!

Posted by | September 16, 2017 | Filed under: Observations

The 2017 Laudholm Nature Crafts Festival was simply amazing. If you were here, in any capacity, thank you! You saw how great weather, loyal attendees, skilled makers, dedicated volunteers, three decades of experience, and an extraordinary site combined to make our 30th annual event something special. It was a festival to remember for years to come. "A real sweetheart of a show," one artist called it. "The best one I've ever been to," exclaimed a long-time attendee.

Thank you especially to sponsors and partners Kennebunk Savings Bank, Stonewall Kitchen, Duffy's Tavern and Grill, the Maine Diner, The Bull & Claw, Shield's Meats, Jake's Seafood, Shain's of Maine, The Landing Store, Toppings Pizza, Maine Magazine, and so many other local businesses who helped make this weekend possible.

2017 Stats

  1. Attendance: 4,000+, a record
  2. Exhibitors: 123, a record
  3. Total Funds Raised (gross): $117,000, a record
  4. Volunteers: 195, and impossible without them - thank you, volunteers!

Looking Back at the Weekend

Aerial view of Laudholm campus during 2017 crafts festival.
Funny, it looks smaller from above. Hard to believe that, at the peak hour on Saturday, more than 1,500 people were here.

We've never blogged about parking before, but after this Crafts Festival and our new parking system, we've got two posts on the subject! Read Where You From? for the results of a license plate survey and A Message from The Forks for a parking volunteer's perspective. The Wells Reserve has event parking down to a science!

In this Summer of Art & Science, the polite and friendly master artisans anchored the Crafts Festival, as they always do. Grateful shoppers walked away with full bags and glad hearts.

Maine Magazine also sent a photographer down on Saturday. Did you or someone you know pose for the camera? Find out on Faces Maine by Maine Magazine.

A Special Guest

Laudholm Nature Crafts Festival founder Alice Strait flew all the way from Colorado to celebrate the anniversary weekend.

Pat Frost and Alice Strait give a thumbs up on the "Survivors Bench."
Laudholm Nature Crafts Festival founder Alice Strait (right) with long-time Festival organizer Pat Frost (left).

Alice gave this short, rousing speech on the Sunday of the Crafts Festival:

What is a Laudholm? In 1981, when Mort asked if a few friends and I would like to see Laudholm, I certainly didn’t expect a huge, wild meadow right off of Route 1, with a dangerous large house, unpainted farm buildings, and overgrown forests, shrubs, pathways.

Mort’s visions for saving all this from development inspired us to dig deep in our talents... How about a working model farm? How about the World’s Largest Raffle? How about, how about... the ideas flowed.

Well, all I could do is volunteer time, I said. He said, time is as important as money, Alice.

I could perhaps create a craft show in my spare time as a local elementary teacher. Hmmm... I had chutzpah, I had confidence, and I had prior experience.

With all of us and others, the essence of a loved Laudholm was born. What about a show, then, that featured nature, one where Maine artisans could roll out of bed, be treated like kings and queens, roll back home with $$$ and a few products! What about approaching gurus in their different media, provide space in the barn or lovely tents, and have entrance fees going to a great cause.

After 3 years of planning, 50 quality crafters saved the weekend after Labor Day to be in the first Laudholm Nature Crafts Festival. Our lithographed poster by renowned local photographer Tony King, of a white heron heralding the show around town, became a pre-show collector item. I wonder where they are now.

But Laudholm was ready for a party! The big day arrived... September 10 and 11, 1988. Two beautiful sparkling “Laudholm days” drew the folks here in waves… picture our mower-man Curt driving through the crowds to provide more parking areas in the meadow. My husband was the only one handling parking, entrance money, and greeting folks! We were swamped with excited visitors who now knew where Laudholm was! When a technically accurate wooden trout sold for $4,000 we knew the Festival was on the road to success and survival!

About 25 years later, survival became important to me. In 2013, l was diagnosed with a rather uncommon cancer, multiple myeloma... treatable but not curable YET! During radiation and chemotherapy, thoughts of peaceful Laudholm’s restoration, research, resiliency, and even the Survivors Bench helped build up my courage.

I want to thank my original committee members who sat around the big oak table to plan. We were small in number, about nine, but large in dedication. Joan Parker, Joanne Rhines, Sandra Grady, Doris Adams, Rhoda Frederick, Ed Dickinson, Herb Duffill, Dick Putnam, Gene Frederick. Each found helpers to lighten the load.Thank you to the many, many who have carried on the tradition afterwards.The staff of the Trust, Board of Trustees, and nearly 200 volunteers that year all helped our 50 crafters and visitors to leave with a piece of the southern Maine coast in their heart.

Laudholm will survive! Laudholm will survive! Laudholm will survive!

The 31st

We'll be back! It was a record-setting year in 2017; it's hard to imagine a stronger 2018. But we're already looking for things to tweak and will sit down for an internal debriefing in early October. The countdown to September 8 & 9, 2018, begins now.

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