Warm and sunny Chester Fall Festival draws a large crowd

Andy Sheere stands over a hot grill on a warm day as the food sold fast. Photo by Lyza Danger Gardner

CHESTER, Vt. – The 43rd annual Chester Fall Craft Festival drew crowds to the village green on Sept. 16 and 17. Families strolled, browsing artisan wares, listening to music and enjoying the unusually warm late summer weather. Dogs rolled in the plastic kiddie pool in front of Whiting Library to cool off.

By 11 a.m. on Sunday, the day was already hot. Steam billowed off the grill where Chester Fire Department Lieutenant Andy Sheere was tending to a sizzling pile of onions and sausages, and the Chester Fire Department’s booth at the east end of the village green was sweltering. But unseasonably warm weather meant lots of customers – business was brisk. Assistant Fire Chief Ben Whalen estimated that sales at the fair would raise between $3,000 and $4,000 for the Yosemite Engine Company, a non-profit organization that helps to offset fire department costs from the town. Even though the group bought three more cases of meat than last year, they were out of burgers, hot dogs, and sausages by mid-afternoon on Saturday. Whalen hoped for a repeat on Sunday: selling out indicates that fundraising efforts are going swimmingly.

The Chester Fire Department tent’s enthusiastic crowds were a microcosm of this year’s Chester Fall Festival. Up and down the green, vendors in tents and businesses reported the same: it’s busy!

At the other end of the village green from where fire department volunteers hawked their cheeseburgers and hot dogs with robust shouts, several representatives of the Six Loose Ladies Yarn and Fiber shop were demonstrating the art of turning wool into yarn.

Kathleen Meeks gives a lesson on spinning wool. Photo by Lyza Danger Gardner

“Spin to the right, ply to the left,” explained Kathleen Meeks, demonstrating the different motions required to first spin wool and subsequently twist – ply – multiple strands together to make two-or three-ply finished yarn. Meeks, who raises 44 wool-bearing sheep at Maybelle Farm in Wardsboro, Vt., was one of dozens of local farmers and artisans at the fair.

Chester-area civic organizations lined the sidewalk near the newly restored Hearse House. The Chester Conservation Committee’s tent featured detailed maps of the new Butternut Hill trail. Volunteers Mariette Bock and Suzy Forlie sold daffodil and allium bulbs to raise money for Chester Townscape, the group behind the recent Hearse House project. “Expect a grand opening sometime soon!” said Bock.

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