For more than a decade, the Schenectady County Historical Society has brought crafters, artisans and visitors to its historic site along the banks of the Mohawk River in Rotterdam Junction for the annual Mabee Farm Arts and Crafts Festival.
• What: Mabee Farm Arts and Crafts Festival
• When: Saturday, Aug. 23, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
• Where: Mabee Farm Historic Site, 1100 Main St., Rotterdam Junction
• How much: $5 per adult
• Info: schenectadyhistorical.org.
“It’s a real community event,” said Mary Zawacki, curator for the society.
The event takes place on the 9-acre property in the Mohawk Valley and features more than 50 local crafters with handmade pottery, wood crafting, handwoven items, candles, jewelry and painted furniture, in addition to historical demonstrations and exhibits.
“It is one of our main fundraisers,” said Zawacki. “It’s unique because it’s at the historic property. The demonstrations are more historically based, and all the vendors are from the area.”
Mike and Lynn Smith have been bringing their handmade candles and jewelry to craft fairs around the region since 1978 and have made it a point to attend the Mabee Farm event since its inception.
“It’s one of the nicest handmade shows that we go to,” said Mike Smith.
The couple makes non-toxic jewelry and more than 96 varieties of candles, including one made of garlic, which they claim keeps mosquitoes away.
“We make a garlic candle. We make it with real garlic in our wax,” Smith said. “It keeps the mosquitos away. You know, in Italy they don’t have screens — they keep the mosquitos out with garlic.”
The event takes place in and around Mabee Farm’s historic Dutch barn and in the new Franchere Education Center, which was added to the site in 2011.
The Mabee Farm Historic site is the oldest standing home in the Mohawk Valley and acts as a museum and educational center with tours, exhibits, events and programs, including the popular Howlin’ at the Moon summer concerts. Visitors to the site can learn first-hand about the life of one of Schenectady County’s early families.
Zawacki said the event is more than a craft fair. Its historical nature tends to draw people of all ages.
“People love the sheep-to-shawl demonstration,” she said. “And visitors can tour the museum exhibits and the historic house.”
The exhibit on display currently in the education center is called “The Story of Shoes,” and it highlights shoes from collections across Schenectady and the Capital District and the stories that they tell.
“It uses shoes as a lens to look at how people have related to the world around them,” Zawacki said.
In addition to the exhibit, Zawacki said there will be animals, including a goat and a sheep, and visitors can have a look at a working farm.
“We do grow crops — we have a big rye and hops crop. We will be harvesting those to make our own beer later this year for a beer brewing exhibit in the fall,” she said.
Zawacki said that the event is clearly a community event for everyone.
“I think it’s a great way to see our property and our grounds when lively. It’s just a fun day for everyone.” she said.
The Mabee Farm Arts and Crafts Festival takes place on Saturday, Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mabee Farm Historic Site, 1100 Main Street (Route 5S) in Rotterdam Junction. Adults are $5 and kids are free. For more information, visit schenectadyhistorical.org.