VIDEO: Craft fair draws thousands from outside the Hudson Valley – Poughkeepsie Journal

NEW PALTZ — Janet and John Decristofaro of Bergenfield, New Jersey, have been coming to the New Paltz-Woodstock Art and Crafts Fair every year for 12 years.

“We love the different merchandise,” said Janet Decristofaro, who said over the years she has purchased a couple of handbags and a handcrafted Lazy Susan. “It’s all very creative.”

They are some of the thousands of who visit New Paltz for the weekend just to browse and shop at the three-day fair in the last 34 years, co-organizer Neil Rubinstein said.

“I think the attraction is just that the fair has a little magic to it,” Rubinstein said. “There is a visual excitement from the way the exhibits are displayed and people appreciate the artwork and attention to detail.”

Like an art show, vendors for the fair are selected by a jury, meaning artist and artisans submit photos of their work in advance and are accepted into the fair based on the quality of their art, Rubinstein said.

Once accepted, the show gives independent artists a chance to sell their wares and gain exposure with a wide audience. The fair typically sees between 10,000 and 20,000 visitors each year, he said.

Devon Cameron of Middletown, who creates hand painted gourds, has had her work displayed at the fair six times. Her artwork, called “Gourdaments,” has also been featured in 500 galleries and shops such as the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois.

“I love doing the shows like this one more than selling wholesale,” Cameron said. “You get to meet your customers face-to-face, talk with them and hear their feedback. And this is a wonderful show. I definitely found that people in the Hudson Valley really do have an appreciation for handmade art.”

On Sunday, many people visiting Cameron’s booth came to the fair to purchase gifts months before the holiday season, she said.

For many, the attraction is the one-of-a-kind, high-end items, which come from in and around New York.

“Made in America has become a foreign sound,” Rubinstein said. “This combination, the set up, and the ability to talk with the artists making those products, really keeps people coming back. For many, it’s an ongoing relationship that they gravitate back to.”

The three-day craft fair, which began Saturday, continues on Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ulster County Fairground. Admission price is $9; $8 for seniors; and children ages 12 and under are admitted for free.

Amanda Purcell: apurcell@poughkeepsiejournal.com; 845-437-4807; Facebook.com/pojopurcell; Twitter: @amandajpurcell