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Sherman Woman Brings Art Of Appalachia Home With Annual Craft Fair

Volunteers dropping off goods and picking up crafts in Gassaway, West Virginia (not far from the recent flooding.)
Volunteers dropping off goods and picking up crafts in Gassaway, West Virginia (not far from the recent flooding.) Photo Credit: contributed
People shopping at the 2015 Appalachian Craft Fair in Sherman
People shopping at the 2015 Appalachian Craft Fair in Sherman Photo Credit: contributed
Many items were for sale at the 2015 Appalachian Craft Fair in Sherman
Many items were for sale at the 2015 Appalachian Craft Fair in Sherman Photo Credit: contributed
Handmade baskets for sale at the Appalachian Craft Fair in Sherman
Handmade baskets for sale at the Appalachian Craft Fair in Sherman Photo Credit: contributed
Handmade purses for sale at the Appalachian Craft Fair in 2015
Handmade purses for sale at the Appalachian Craft Fair in 2015 Photo Credit: contributed
Handmade mats for sale at the Appalachian Craft Fair
Handmade mats for sale at the Appalachian Craft Fair Photo Credit: contributed

SHERMAN, Conn. -- When Sherman resident Anne Marie Kuehling-Kastilahn heard about the recent flooding in West Virginia that destroyed over 1,000 homes, her heart went out to the people of the region.

She feels a special bond with these residents of Appalachia through her role as director of the annual Appalachian Craft Fair, which will be held this week in her hometown.

Work made by over 40 crafters will be for sale, including quilts, split oak baskets, pottery, soaps, and knitted and crocheted socks, table runners and napkins. Items range from $1 to $75.

A total of 100 percent of the proceeds are returned to the individual crafters who made them, according to Kuehling-Kastilahn.

The Appalachian project began over 30 years ago with a group of parishioners from St. Edward the Confessor Church in New Fairfield and Holy Trinity Church.

"These people would take gently used clothing, kitchen items and household items to a number of outreach centers in Virginia and West Virginia, to give to the people in those communities," said Kuehling-Kastilahn, who is an office administrator.

"Volunteers observed the beautiful items made by the local people and had the idea to take these items to Connecticut and sell them, and send the crafters the money the crafters earned for them," she said.

According to the Appalachian Regional Commission, many people of the region live in poverty and still require basic infrastructure such as roads and water and sewer systems. "In the recent flooding, many of these people's homes have been washed away," Kuehling-Kastilahn said.

"Holding this fair is a very direct way to help people," she added. "I enjoy being involved with this because i get the satisfaction of being able to help people improve their lives."

The 26th Annual Appalachian Craft Fair will be Friday, July 8, from noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday, July 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, July 10, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Holy Trinity Church in Sherman.

Holy Trinity Parish is at Route 37 in Sherman. There is free parking and free admission. For more information, contact appcraftfair@gmail.com.

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