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Crafters excite large crowds with innovative displays at Stone Mills show

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LAFARGEVILLE — An old propane stove converted into a lamp appealed to Depauville resident Debra A. Thompson when she passed it Sunday at the 44th annual Arts and Craft Fair at the Stone Mills Museum, where 92 crafters had set up shop.

Crafters are required to make products by hand to participate in the annual show, which drew more than 1,000 people on Friday and Saturday, and about 600 Sunday. The Northern New York Agricultural Historical Society, which manages the museum, will use part of the show’s proceeds this summer to retrofit an old barn on the museum grounds. The structure will store tractors that date back to the 1960s.

Retired dairy farmer Paul L. Frasier, 78, knew he’d secured a potential buyer for the 4-foot-tall lamp when Mrs. Thompson’s face lit up while looking at the propane stove underneath its conical lampshade. The craftsman from Johnstown made the lamp by drilling holes through the stove top to affix a light-bulb socket and shade.

“I saw her get all excited, but I just sat on my lawn chair because I knew she’d come back for it,” said Mr. Frasier, whose display featured quirky lamps made from golf club bags, a fire extinguisher, snowshoes and various farming equipment. He spends the winter months hunting for antiques with his wife, Sandra A., who’s responsible for decorating the crafts.

Sure enough, Mrs. Thompson returned to the booth about five minutes later to buy the lamp, priced at $22.25.

“I like the antique look of it,” said Mrs. Thompson, who’s attended the fair with granddaughter Kimberly M. Thompson, 16, since the teenager was a toddler. “I have a black stove in my mudroom this will go with.”

A cluster of more than 20 Christmas caroler decorations, each with a unique outfit, was the centerpiece of a booth run by Gary B. and Shirley J. Hammond, North Syracuse. Mrs. Hammond has established a reputation at shows across the state for these carolers, which she paints and clothes after her husband carves them from wood.

Mrs. Hammond painted 112 carolers during the winter to stock up for the summer season. They’re being scooped up fast at fairs.

“Families keep coming back to buy the carolers, because no two are alike,” she said. “These are all my design, and there’s no pattern. That’s what I like about the show — it’s people who are actually making their stuff.”

Others stopped to appreciate hand-knitted bags, kitchen towels and scarves made by Belinda E. Martin, Pillar Point. Of particular interest were large bags knitted in a yellow-and-black pattern using trash bags, which were sold at $10 apiece.

“They take about a day to make because you have to cut bags in strips to weave them,” she said Sunday. “I’ve sold maybe 10 this weekend.”

A basket that was full of knitted dishcloths when the show began Friday was running low by Sunday afternoon.

“I’m going to need to catch up,” Mrs. Martin said, holding a partly knitted one in her hand. “I can make about a half dozen in a day.”

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