WESTFIELD - Consider wrapping up July with a visit to the YWCA Westfield Arts and Crafts Festival.
From the original 16 vendors in 1972 to the over 130 vendors in 2012, the Westfield Arts and Crafts Festival has changed and grown, but has retained an aura of high quality, hand crafted items for sale. This years' show is scheduled for Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28, held rain or shine in Moore Park, the center of the Village of Westfield.
Each day the vendors will be available at 9 a.m. On Friday the festival is open until 6 p.m., and on Saturday until 5 pm. There is free admission, free parking at the Theatre Motel and free shuttle service to the park.
People explore the 2011 YWCA Arts and Crafts Festival. This year’s festival will be held in Moore Park on Friday, July 27 and Saturday, July 28.
Historical material at the YWCA indicates the show began in the early 1970s after a local resident, Linda Dunn, had visited similar events in other areas. Newspaper articles and posters show there were originally demonstrations from a number of the artists, a doll show, trolley rides and a Pennsylvania Dutch Dinner. In 1976 the festival partnered with the village and offered visitors "old fashioned bargain days and side walk sales" as well as the opportunity to celebrate the nations' 200th birthday.
In 1992 the YWCA was approached and the Board of Directors voted to sponsor the festival and take on the related responsibilities. Since then the YWCA has put on the festival each year. Over the course of time new vendors were added and the show now covers the entire park.
"This makes 2012 a double anniversary year," YWCA Executive Director Katie Smith said. "We're celebrating 40 years of the show and 20 years of YWCA sponsorship. We're excited to bring entertainment back - local acts including Doc and Bill, Bill Ward, the Bonnie Loch fiddlers, Dave Issler, Dan O'Connell, Crippled Fingers and an Infinity Arts Showcase will be performing in the gazebo, both days. We're printing a keepsake program featuring vendor bios, local historical information and business ads plus our lineup of vendors includes returning favorites and some new and exciting craftspeople.
"We can count Arlene Angelo, Tony and June Burns, Tom and Belle Dole and Rena Pierce among the vendors with a 25 plus year history of participation," Smith said. "These vendors are joined by a significant number of others who have a 15 plus year history with the show."
Angelo creates doll clothes, the Burns make wooden puzzles, the Doles feature dried floral arrangements and Pierce brings a variety of hand knit and sewn apparel, kitchen towels and cloths as well as painted home dcor items and hand crafted jewelry. Other long time vendors feature cut out silhouettes, custom silver jewelry, pottery, dips and cheesecake mixes.
New to the 2012 show are vendors who reuse clothing to make planters, a crafter specializing in Native American art, crafters who make all natural soap, candles, lotions and scents, vendors with pet treats, garden dcor created from silverware, primitive country furniture and handbags, purses and totes - just to name a few.
"This is a wonderful event and the comments we receive from the vendors and their customers are all positive," board president Ivy Higginbotham said. "Staff, board members, their families and our community partners all make it easy. It's exciting to know so many of the artists want to return year after year, but it's also very rewarding to know the show has a good reputation and there are new artists that want to be included."
Food is also an important addition to the festival. Local organizations and churches provide the beverages, sandwiches, chicken dinners, homemade pies and other treats.
"It's a great selection of specially prepared items," Smith said. "You'll need to come to the show and enjoy all there is to offer. In addition to enjoying some great food, you'll get satisfaction knowing you've helped support our local churches, other not for profits and service clubs."
Proceeds from the show help support the YWCA Westfield. Locally the YWCA provides child care services, offers a variety of classes to the community, has both meeting rooms and bedrooms for rent, operates a fitness center and works to demonstrate the mission of the YWCA, to empower women and eliminate racism. The YWCA is a United Way Agency, a member of the National YWCA and the northeast regional council.
More information on the YWCA Westfield is available by calling 326-2011, by checking the website at www.ywcawestfield.org or by connecting on Facebook.