December 5, 2021

Weekend craft fair supports St. Mary’s School, local vendors

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Elaine Mitchell, left, speaks with Barb Schroder on Saturday during the craft fair inside a barn on Rice Hill Road in Homer. The weekend-long fair took the place of the St. Mary’s School Christmas bazaar, which was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the chilly interior of Lori Tyrrell’s barn on Rice Hill Road in Homer, quiet conversations between vendors and patrons filled the air Saturday during a weekend-long craft fair.

Guests learned more about what the roughly 16 vendors who were selling, including local foods, woodworking products and other trinkets, during the event taking the place of St. Mary’s School’s Christmas bazaar, which was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Meghan Henry, member of the school’s parent’s guild.

“It’s a huge hit,” Henry said.

The bazaar and other school fundraisers to help offset the school’s tuition were canceled because of the pandemic. And while Saturday’s fair was smaller than the bazaar that packs the school’s gym, Henry said it was still helpful.

Tyrrell said the idea to host the fair in her barn came after she learned the school would cancel its annual haunted barn and dance she hosts every Halloween.

Tyrrell proposed having the bazaar, which had also been canceled in its original form, on a smaller scale in her barn in its place.

Despite the change of setting and scale, vendors and customers were happy to have it.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been here,” said vendor Rebecca Tanner said. “I love the barn.”

Tanner, who has sold at the bazaar in years past, was selling metal jack o’lanterns cut from old milk and gas cans. She’s had to change her approach to selling, though. She doesn’t get close to assist customers so she can maintain social distance.

Additionally, with the pandemic, she said she has been selling a lot of products online.

Tanner said though that Saturday’s fair was a step in the right direction for doing something similar to fairs pre-pandemic.

“It’s kind of hard to move away from our norm but I think if we do something in a safe environment, it still provides something for people to attend,” she said. “So I think that’s still a bright spot in the day.”

Saturday was the first craft fair Bethany Austin of Groton has attended this year due to the pandemic.

“So I’m pretty excited to come out,” she said. “It’s a great day for it.”

She and her boyfriend, Dylan Hall, bought a shovel and milk can jack o’lantern from Tanner.

“With COVID hitting as hard as it is for local businesses and local people, it’s just good to keep the economy here,” Austin said.

Kathy Thorington of Scott was looking to see what was available and maybe get ideas for Christmas gifts.

“It’s great for the vendors to get out there with some of their stuff,” she said. “I’m sure it’s been lean for them.”