The picturesque village of Ridgefield provides a beautiful New England setting for the holiday season. In what has become a much-anticipated tradition, Ridgefield begins that season the week before Thanksgiving with the opening of four holiday markets: ARTique 2015, the Community Center’s Festival of Trees, the Guild of Artists’ Festive Home and the Ridgefield Woman’s Club Craft Fair.
Together they make Ridgefield a destination – from well beyond its borders – for finding one-of-kind gifts and for viewing artwork, good design and original crafts. At each market visitors can enter a drawing for a $100 Chamber of Commerce Gift Certificate.
It all gets under way on Thursday, Nov. 19, with ARTique 2015’s opening reception and sale, complete with music and refreshments, from 6:30 to 8:30 at St. Stephen’s Church, 351 Main Street. This popular art boutique features the work of 13 members of Connecticut Clay Artists (CCA) and 11 guest artists who work in other media. It continues Friday and Saturday, from 10 to 5. There is no admission charge. CCA members will exhibit works in clay and porcelain in a range of styles, from pieces of art to functional objects, artfully crafted, and delightful whimsy. Their works will include unique holiday décor items, such as angels and crèche figures.
Among the five guest artists new to ARTique are jeweler Jill Scholsohn of Riverstone Beads and Wendy Mignot, who features Tahitian and fresh-water pearls strung on leather. Also new is Lisa Cohen, known for her magnificent equestrian photographs, which she takes while riding with other invited photographers in the Great American Horse Drive in Colorado as they drive 800 or so ranch horses from their overwintering location to the main ranch, about 50 miles.
Returning guest artists are wool weaver Barbara Dull, woodworker Steve Dull, silk scarf designers Ronda Lanzi and Charlotte Griffin, ironworker Chris Doherty and fabric artist Angela Liptak. Also on Nov. 19 and just across the street from St. Stephen’s, at 316 Main Street, the Champagne Preview Party for the 17th biennial Festival of Trees takes place at the Lounsbury House Community Center from 7 to 10. This gala affair, with food and festive drinks, provides a sneak peak at (and opportunity to purchase) 40 decorated trees donated by local businesses, organizations and individuals. Admission is $50. The Festival continues Friday, 10-8; Saturday, 10-5, and Sunday, 11-5, with a $10 admission ($5 for seniors and $3 children aged 6-12). This is the first Festival of Trees since a major interior renovation of Lounsbury House, which provides an especially beautiful showcase for the trees as well as the decorated porch, adorned mantels, staircase and the holiday boutique on both floors. In recognition of the renovation, a raffle will feature a commissioned gingerbread house that replicates this historic house.
A beloved Festival tradition is the Teddy Bear Tea with Mrs. Claus. The five seatings – Saturday at 11, 1 and 3 and Sunday at 11 and 1 — usually sell out, so reservations are advised. The $15 admission to the tea includes the Festival. Call 203-438-6962 for reservations to the Tea or the Champagne Preview Party.
The holiday spirit next takes hold at the Guild of Artists on Friday, November 20, with a special opening night party celebrating the 11th Annual Festive Home at the 34 Halpin Lane gallery space from 6 to 8. The event features refreshments and music along with a first peek at vignettes created by local designers, featured artwork and an emporium of holiday gifts. Party tickets are $20. Festive Home continues with free admission November 21-December 23, Tuesday-Sunday, with extended shopping hours, 11-5. (It is closed November 25-26.)
Inspired by this year’s theme – Home for the Holidays — eight designers have paired with member artists to create homey settings focusing on mantels, foyers and the family table. Returning designers are Molly Hirsch, Amanda Dranow and Rachel Beldon of Ridgefield and Lisa Bartro and Briony Noome of Redding. New this year are Madelyne Gray and Joshua Fischer, both formerly of New York City and now located in Ridgefield, and Andrea Romeo, also of Ridgefield. Yedi Fresh, the Guild’s new artist-in-residence, is Festive Home’s featured artist.
Teachers and members of the Guild support this annual fundraiser by creating and donating small canvases for sale. The theme for this year’s canvas art project is the Guild barn and local birds. The canvasses are for sale at $50.
The oldest of the four markets, the Ridgefield Woman’s Club Craft Fair, now in its 45th year, runs just one day: Saturday, November 21, from 10-4 at the East Ridgefield Middle School, 10 East Ridge Road. All proceeds fund community programs and several college scholarships for Ridgefield High School students. Visitors to the Craft Fair can see the work of 100 crafters from Ridgefield and throughout Fairfield County and other locations in Connecticut and neighboring states. Of these, almost two thirds are returning from last year, so patrons can usually find their favorite crafter.
The fair focuses mainly on affordable crafts selling for $5 to $100. There is virtually something for everyone – from babies to adults to the family pet. The wide range of items includes clothing, knit goods, woodworking (from a jewelry box to a handmade bench), holiday décor items, alpaca yarn, specialty food baskets and jewelry. Patrons can find smaller gifts useful for stocking stuffers and even a selection of homemade dog and cat treats. Refreshments, donated by local merchants and restaurants and available for purchase, include a light lunch of pizza, sandwich wraps and hot dogs. Admission is $8 ($1 discount with presentation of the Craft Fair’s newspaper ad); children under 12 are admitted free.