Local Craft Fair Introduces Locals to International Cultures

By Meng Yuan and Bethany Smith

In 2016, Gabby Brooks went backpacking for the year across Australia and South-East Asia. In a small street market in Thailand she fell in love with Mandala fabrics, which are patterns that represent the universe in the Buddhist religion.

Back home in Long Island, she combined this new love with her long-term interest in making dream catchers.

“They are all upcycled, so they are created with things I’ve collected while traveling,” Brooks said.

Gabby is just one of the 100 vendors at the 6th Annual Hauppauge Craft Fair at Hauppauge High School this weekend. The two-day event integrated foreign culture into the local market with more five countries were represented including Kenya, Greece and Ecuador.

The money raised from renting the space to vendors went to the Hauppauge Parent Student Teacher Association (PTSA) which will be put into a fund for scholarships at the end of the year. But also, profits made from goods went straight back to the vendors to use however they wanted. And some chose to use the proceeds for charity.

“This is our biggest fundraisers of this year,” Christina Merendino, the vice president of PTSA,
said. “It benefits the community, and the money raised benefits the students.”

The Hope Children’s Fund, a vendor selling goods imported from Kenya, used their earnings to support the children in their orphanage, the Jerusha Mwiraria Hope Children’s Home in Meru, Kenya, Kevin Mann, the Vice President of the fund, said. The money pays for food, clothes and to put the children through school.

They had jewelry, beaded animal figurines and purses, all made by the Merrueshi Women’s Cooperative, a group of women who make crafts.

Knowing that the money would go to support the orphanage influenced Kathleen Cowie’s decision to purchase items from the fund.

“I still have two bowls that I got last year from there,” Cowie, who attends the craft fair every year, said. “I don’t need bowls. I have tons of them.”

Other vendors included Lakonia, a family company that sells olive oil, import their olives from Greece. “There’s nothing better than Greek olive oil,” Tina Dorazio, who was selling the oil, said. “It’s a longer process and a much more expensive process, but it produces a better-quality product.”

There were handmade sweaters and hats as well as bracelets from Ecuador. Sase Mailis, who was running the booth at the fair, has been making these goods by hand for 20 years.

“Everything is handmade by my family,” Mailis said. “I came to work for my family and for me.”

The fair also gave locals a chance to show off their crafts. Diane Bard, the founder of Peace Soap, came to the fair to sell her handmade soaps, chap sticks and even bracelets. She has been making her products for 9 years.

Some customers like the fair because it gives them a chance to find a diverse range of goods for all over the world and the world that they don’t see every day.

“That’s the best part about it,” Krista Hachadoorian who attended the event, said. “You can’t find any of this stuff in a regular store.”

About the Author

Meng Yuan
Meng Yuan
I am a student journalist at Stony Brook University.