Saratoga County

Buyers, browsers enjoy park craft fair on dark days

The Saratoga Springs Crafts Festival, which is celebrating its 20th year, was organized this year by

The silver ring eyed by 15-year-old Erin Dooley practically jumped onto her finger as she lingered at the side of a craft vendor’s table in Congress Park.

“It would go with everything,” professed the Wilton resident, who donned the ring in an attempt to prove the claim to her patiently waiting mother. To sweeten the deal, vendor Patricia Becker chimed in that she could knock $4 off the $39 price tag.

All of this was par for the course Tuesday at the Saratoga Springs Crafts Festival, which is celebrating its 20th year. Organized by Audrey Leczinsky of Audrey’s Art Ltd. in Delmar, this year’s festival benefitted the Saratoga Springs History Museum and featured about a dozen vendors from all over the state, who took advantage of a warm afternoon after an overcast morning to show their wares to a steady stream of people.

Located around the carousel in Congress Park, the show resembled a makeshift street fair, with tents and tables arranged in rows. The wares ranged from predictable trinkets like bracelets, earrings and rings to oddities such as bath towels with dogs on them. Some people stopped to touch items or ask questions; others just strolled on through and took in the ambiance.

Vendor Patricia Becker is a regular in the park on dark days — Tuesdays, when the horses are not racing at Saratoga Race Course — when she sells jewelry she crafts herself. She is focused on selling merchandise, but Becker enjoys her interactions with the customers as well. “I love talking to the people. I think I enjoy that as much as anything,” she said.

The shows are also a chance to be recognized for her skills. “It’s a wonderful affirmation for me, to have people love the work and tell me how talented I am,” Becker admitted.

As for the crowds this year, she said they’ve been “excellent” and argued that it was hard to notice that the country might be in an “almost recession.” “People are visiting from out of town,” she said, “and they like to buy.”

One of those out-of-towners was Lucille Burnett, of South Carolina, a regular in the park on Tuesdays during her month in the city. Having discovered the tradition of craft vendors in the park during her visit to Saratoga Springs last year, she said her fondness for the jewelry offered has made it part of her routine when she visits the city.

“I think it’s just nice,” Burnett said. “It gives you something to do in the middle of the week.”

Zack Bell, 14, of Ballston Spa, was drawn to Tuesday’s event because of his admiration for Congress Park. He saw the tents and just decided to check things out. Bell is a veteran of these shows but has never actually bought anything.

“I just come to look,” he said. “A lot of nice stuff, just not my thing.”

Erin Dooley, who had only stumbled onto the festival after shopping on Broadway, found herself in unfamiliar territory at the festival, as she debated whether to spend the earnings from her summer job on the silver ring she had been admiring. Her mom, Judy, implored her to use the bargaining techniques they had witnessed on the streets in Thailand.

While her daughter went back to the vendor, Judy remarked that she was a little surprised how little art was being offered compared to the large amount of jewelry.

A few minutes later, Erin rejoined her mother with a big smile and a new piece of jewelry she had purchased for $30.

“I’m very happy,” she said.

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