by Linda Berry — This weekend Ridgefield will be chock-full of festive reminders that the holidays are near.  The reminders? Four holiday markets: ARTique 2016, Founders Hall Wreath Festival, the Guild of Artists’ Festive Home and the Ridgefield Woman’s Club Craft Fair.

Together they conspire to make this picturesque village the place to be for finding one-of-a-kind gifts, for viewing artwork, good design and original crafts, and for savoring a preview of the holidays. Although the markets have their own histories and traditions, this year they all offer exciting new twists.  As in years past, however, visitors to each market can enter a drawing for a $100 Chamber of Commerce Gift Certificate.

Lessley Burke, owner of Ridgefield’s Guilded Lynx studio, will show her jewelry at ARTique 2016. —Photo by Mary Harold

Lessley Burke, owner of Ridgefield’s Guilded Lynx studio, will show her jewelry at ARTique 2016. —Photo by Mary Harold

ARTique 2016

First to open its doors will be ARTique 2016. It gets under way with an opening night reception and sale on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 6:30–8:30, at St. Stephen’s Church, 351 Main St. The popular art boutique exhibits works in clay and porcelain in a range of styles by members of Connecticut Clay Artists and objects by guest artists who work in other media.  It continues Nov. 18-19, from 10 to 5. Admission is free.

This year ARTique has greatly expanded its offerings by inviting representatives of two Ridgefield businesses to be among its guest artists. Lessley Burke, a master goldsmith and owner of Guilded Lynx, a jewelry teaching studio and gallery, will show her silver and gold jewelry, some with gemstone settings and enamel, and jewelry by students. Morag Grassie, who works in textiles and is owner of Ally Bally Bee, a marketplace for local artisans, will display her purses and scarves in unusual, textured fabrics and assorted handcrafted gift items from the store.

Objects from other guest artists will include hand-blown glass, forged iron, turned wood, silks, terrariums and fiber art. In all, more than 20 artists will be represented.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit St. Stephen’s outreach programs for women.

Wreath Festival

The Founders Hall Wreath Festival begins Friday, Nov. 18, at 6:30 with what is a first for Founders Hall (and possibly Ridgefield): a Beefsteak Community Feast featuring a lavish, all-you-can-eat dinner, bottomless libations, and dessert. Catered by Sarah Bouissou, it will be styled after traditional 19th Century fundraisers that took place in New York City.

After the 7 o’clock seating, platters of meat, shrimp and more will arrive. Diners will be given a complimentary apron, and forks can be rented. Guests get first dibs on the wreaths and at the holiday boutique. Emcee for the evening will be stand-up comedian Barry Schaffer. Tickets for Beefsteak, available at www.founders-hall.org, are $150.

The Wreath Festival continues Nov. 19-21 from 10 to 4 with free admission. Over 100 decorated wreaths created by local designers will be on display and for sale, along with holiday garlands, fresh greenery swags, and fresh miniature boxwood trees. The festival will also feature a home and holiday boutique stocked with unusual gift items, elegant home décor pieces, jewelry, accessories and more. Local performers will add to the festive atmosphere. All proceeds support life-long learning at Founders Hall, a donor-supported education and recreation center that is open without charge to members aged 60 and older.

Festive Home

“Merry and Bright” is the theme for Ridgefield Guild of Artists’ 12th Annual Festive Home, and it is serving to inspire the designers who are creating vignettes in the guild’s gallery space at 34 Halpin Lane.  Guests at the preview party − Friday, Nov. 18, from 6 to 8:30 – will get a first peek at the vignettes, member artwork and a holiday emporium while enjoying festive beverages and nibbles from Nature’s Temptations. Tickets for the party are $20.

Seven designers have paired with member artists to fashion six vignettes that reflect a range of design sensibilities.  Josh Fischer, working with artist Tina Sturges, has promised an “eclectic modern foyer.” Molly Hirsch, with artist Rachel Volpone, will produce a snapshot of a festive table. On the gallery’s first floor will be member artwork, including 10” by 10” donated canvases that reflect a bird and flower theme.  This year, small works by members on sale for under $200 will be grouped together on the second floor. In addition, an expanded number of artisans will show their handmade items throughout.

The guild’s largest fundraiser of the year, Festive Home continues with free admission Nov. 19-Dec. 23, Tuesdays – Sundays, from 11 to 5. It is closed Nov. 23 and 24 for Thanksgiving.

RWC Craft Fair

The Ridgefield Women’s Club (RWC), a service organization celebrating its 50th anniversary, will have its 46th Annual RWC Craft Fair, a juried show, for one day only — Saturday, Nov. 19, 10-4 — at East Ridge Middle School, 10 East Ridge Road.  All net proceeds go back to the community in the form of scholarships and grants to local programs. One hundred vendors – about one-third new to the show each year − will display a range of handmade or hand-embellished items, including gifts for children and pets, decorative items for the home, clothing, soaps, art glass, and birdhouses.

The upcoming Craft Fair will feature an expanded range of gourmet foods, including homemade chocolates, cookies, flavored maple syrup from Connecticut, honey, infused olive oils and assorted candied apples.  Also among the many new items this year: mittens made by Annette Bonwetsch of Ridgefield from felted sweaters and lined with cashmere as well as colorful shawls and scarves made by The Bantu Girl, Neema Syovata of Woodbury, who dyes fabrics to reflect the colorful textiles of Kenya, her original homeland.

Refreshments and light lunch, donated by area restaurants and merchants, will be available for purchase. Admission is $8, and children under 12 are admitted for free.