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Guest commentary: Cromwell Community Craft Sale

The Historical Account of the Cromwell Community Craft Sale

told by Pauline Strand Written October 2017

It was 1974 when Jeannie Utter Smith, Jane Heikkila, Cindy Muse, Karen Frost, and myself gathered together at Jeannie Smith' home and talked about starting a craft sale in Cromwell. We wanted to pool all our talents together and see what would happen.

We started our first craft sale in the Fall of 1974 at Jeannie Utter Smith' home. Jane and Pauline sold knitted items and Jeannie sold wood burning pictures and a variety of paintings. Karen Frost made the best bread and Christmas ornaments and Cindy Muse made beautiful wall decorations. Our advertising for the craft sale was mostly word of mouth and a few posters around town. We were pleased and surprised with the amount of people that came to buy our crafts! Were we on to something???? When the sale was over we decided to try it again the following year.

The next year we set up our craft sale at Karen Frost' home. We sold pretty much the same items and had another great turnout with the same type of advertising.

After that we went to the Community Center, the Trolley, and on to Mark Dahlman's cabinet shop. By that time we were getting much bigger and needed more space so we went to see about the old Cromwell School. We were happy to get the old gym and the multi purpose room.

The word was out now ....so our advertising got more intense.

We found out we had to start charging the crafters for space to sell their crafts as we had about 35 to 45 crafters at that time. The money went towards advertising, a custodian, and forms to send to crafters.

As we continued to become more and more organized we needed more help. In 1991, Peggy Olson joined our group (26 years ago) and that is when we made the decision about what should we call this craft sale. It was decided to be called the Cromwell Community Craft Sale. This was about the time the new school was ready and we got into the new gym. We decided to hold the craft sale on the first day of deer season because the men shot the bucks and the women spent the bucks. Throughout the years the craft sale expanded with coffee and lunch. By that time Peggy and I were pretty much the ones setting up the craft sale. Peggy had the idea of announcing to the school if there was any class or organization that would like to make some money. She found out the craft sale could help out the school by charging admission at the door for the craft sale. The kids were there to take the admission money and would help hold the doors open for the crafters or help the crafters with hauling. The admission money that was received went to different organizations like Dollars For Scholars, Boy Scouts, or class functions. Throughout the years we continued with charging 25 cents for admission and later changed it to 50 cents admission, which it currently is. As the years went by, we continued to grow exponentially. At times we had 60 craft spaces in the school. We even had Santa Claus come and visit the children and he gave out candy canes to them. Christmas trees were decorated and you could have your picture taken with Santa. To make the crafters feel more special, we had door prizes and special coupons for a dollar off for their meals. There were also special occasions for free coffee and cake. We tried to make their experience with the Cromwell Community Craft Sale a special one.

Throughout the years, the spirit of this craft sale provided an important role for the community and surrounding communities. The craft sale brought people together to socialize. We thought it was a good idea to put chairs out for people to sit down and rest a little bit before getting up and shopping and socializing some more.

This year (2017) it was decided to close the doors of the craft sale. As I reflect on this fascinating journey that has lasted 43 years, my heart feels sad for the end of this tiny little craft sale that started so many years ago with the hope of just selling crafts. The heart of this tiny little craft sale turned out to be an important part of the community where we could all come together and socialize with family and friends. I and all the others, thank the community for all the support and wonderful years we were in operation. Our future dream is that someone will be interested enough to maybe ....start it up again!

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