Crafting A Community

The Ulster County Fairgrounds were bustling with families, students and artists who  gathered for the Woodstock-New Paltz Art & Crafts Fair. The sound of rock music permeated from under a white tent near the entrance, and the smell of popcorn and roasted almonds filled the air.

The Woodstock-New Paltz Art & Crafts Fair took place from Saturday, Sept. 1 through Monday, Sept. 3. The fair, now in its 31st year, occurs annually during the Memorial and Labor Day Weekends.

More than 200 artists exhibited their work, selling everything from furniture to leather goods to paintings. The event also hosted live art demonstrations and music, featuring primarily local folk and rock musicians.

The list of exhibitors included professional and non-professional artists working in both fine and practical arts.

Scott Rubinstein, co-director and founder of the event, said the application process is juried and highly selective, and not everyone is accepted into both fairs.

“About half to two-thirds of applicants get in,” he said.

The fair casts a wide net of talent, drawing in exhibitors from all over the country, but about half of the artists live and work in the Hudson Valley,  Rubinstein said.

Lynn Isaacson, frequent attendee and first-time exhibitor, has lived and worked in the Hudson Valley for the past six years and considers it an encouraging creative environment.

“The Hudson Valley has a long history of being an inspiring place for artists and creative people to work and live,” she said. “The valley encourages artists to participate in many wonderful venues available on both sides of the Hudson.”

Rubinstein said the fair is always expanding and has brought in new forms of art through the years. He said most recently they have started to exhibit handcrafted specialty foods and health products.

Cathy Lukacs, a professional potter who has exhibited at the event at least eight times, said the fair has been a consistently good venue for her to gain exposure and income.

Lukacs said events like this see not only a variety in art but also in consumer tastes. She said no single piece is always a bestseller, but everything from function to color can make one of her pieces popular at a show.

The fair draws a large crowd every year with most of the attendees being 35 years or older, Rubinstein said.

However, the crowd included some students like Allison Geist, a fourth-year metals major, who said the ceramic work was interesting due to artists’ “experimental techniques.”

Rubinstein hopes that in the future there will be a more youthful turnout, as the event is not targeted to one specific demographic.

“I’d like to see more young people there,” he said. “You’d really enjoy the show.”