Vicki Huskins has been organizing the Arts and Crafts Show on the Boothbay Common for 25 years.
It began as a five-person get together packed into the corner of the Common without a set schedule and has grown into roughly 35 vendors setting up once a month.
When she began organizing the event, Huskins said her fellow vendors were prepared to call it quits for lack of organization and purpose. “I just had a feeling in my spirit. I'm a Christian, so I believe in God prompting us, and I said I'd organize it. It's grown since then.”
As far as Huskins is concerned, the whole show comes down to giving the vendors exposure to a market. “It's fun and it helps people. People will start a business by doing craft shows … I know a lot of promoters are about selling a space. No, it's not like that for me.”
The show has no lack of interest either, said Huskins. She recalled some shows featuring as many as 80 vendors, so there could be many more crowding the Common.
“But it's too much. People don't want to weave in and out of canopies the whole day.”
The greatest memories are always of people, said Huskins. She likens her vendors to a big family: Seasoned vendors are always pitching in to help newer ones set up and learn the ropes. Huskins tries to help vendors as much as she can because, after all, “it’s the vendors who make it.”
Huskins said there are also strange memories, including a vendor who sold homemade headboards. “We've actually had a couple of those and it's like – who even thought of doing this kind of stuff?”
Then there was the vendor with a machete. He did not like being told he could not sell bottled water without a permit from the town. “Back then when I had things spaced out I used wooden stakes. It ended up in splinters. He took the machete to that and I thought he was going to go after people … We ended up asking him to leave.”
The show has hosted vendors from all over the country selling their unique products to customers visiting the Boothbay region from all over the world. Huskins paints primarily mailboxes and glasses. She has items from all over the world as do many other vendors, she said.
“And we have some fantastic vendors … I have one vendor who does honey … a gentleman who makes spoons. Oh my golly – best spoons I've ever used … We have people who do fantastic fudge, Becky Doughty, my show assistant. We have people who do jams, a fantastic potter, a silversmith.”
Huskins' grandson Marcus Gervais is her personal assistant and has taken over his grandfather’s business of making and selling lawn shadows. “He does pretty well.”
There are many rules for vendors, but none stressed as much as using canopies and tying them down. The shows are guaranteed even with light rain, but Huskins said all bets are off if lightning is involved or if the wind picks up, as it only takes seeing canopies flying all around the Common once or twice to call a show off ahead of time.
“People will grab umbrellas and shop like crazy. They're not going to the beach, they're not mowing their lawn and they're not going swimming, but they will shop. So, if it's a little bit of rain, the shows are on.”
Twenty-five years in, Huskins said it is still fun to organize and lead the show.
“I'm 70 years old and I'm very blessed. I love it and it's a blessing to be able to do it.”