For two short, perfect summer days, from August 14 to Saturday, August 15th, over a hundred sweet white tents full of arts and crafts will occupy the gently sloping park that surrounds the Cotuit Federated Church and the town library. It is the 39th Annual CraftFest in Cotuit – a compelling combination of local food, local crafts, and local performances.
Upon arriving at the Arts and Crafts festival in Cotuit, I heard a couple of musicians beautifully performing the gospel classic “I’ll Fly Away” on the church steps. I set out to check out what was on display and found that down-home craftiness was the general flavor – there were many differnt variations upon the homemade handbag, belt, pillow, and headband.
My newly beloved Flying Pig pottery has a stand at the CraftFest, so be sure to stop by there to check out the most charming pottery around. And, I was completely obsessed with Michael McCarthy’s hand-carved Waterbirds and Shorebirds. They are artful, elegant, while being thoroughly grounded in the folk art tradition. I loved them. I’ve been lucky enough to have a Green Heron hanging out on a dock by my house, and McCarthy has a brilliantly carved version of the heron that perfectly evoked his silly silhouette and his no-nonsense demeanor.
Similar to the joy of talking to a farmer at a farmer’s market, the joy (and the sorrow) of attending a crafts festival is that the booths are occupied by the artisans behind the goods on display. I love the opportunity to talk to the people who devote themselves to their craft. But, the downside of such an intimate setting is seeing the person sitting at a lonesome booth. You can usually sense the disheartening resignation of the unsuccessful fair exhibitor hanging thickly around his or her shoulders. Here they are, their stuff all spread out in front of them, representing months of their time and lots of their love, with nary a customer in sight, as they are forced to watch other booths full of business. Oh, it pains me so!
Towns all over the Cape have very similar craft days and craft weekends during the summer months and they all kind of blend together in my mind – a girl can only look at so many purses made out of jeans before she (willingly) forgets the details of when and where. But, in my opinion, the best part of going to these Craft Festivals is not seeing the (sometimes extraordinary, and sometimes underwhelming) crafts, but getting the opportunity to check out the town. To see its church, its library, its park, its people, its food, its beach. This is the best part. And a craft festival provides a wonderful incentive to go to some town or some part of the Cape you’ve been meaning to check out. So, if you have the time, after you have feasted on lobster and purchased as many handicrafts as you can, head south and take a stroll down Ocean View Avenue to see some of the most classic, divine homes and ocean views around. Have a beer at the Kettle Ho. Take a swim at Loop Beach. Get local and have fun.
The CraftFest also has some delicious offerings to sate even the most voracious shopper. Polar Caves has a tent in which they sell a small selection of their ice cream. And there is a food section of the festival which offers lobster rolls, clam chowder, hot dogs, and burgers.
The CraftFest can be found at the corner of Main Street and School Street in Cotuit. It runs from Friday 10-5 and Saturday 10-3. Parking by the craft festival is a bit hard to find, but, if you don’t mind a bit of a walk around lovely Cotuit, street parking is ample.