Vendors will still have chance to sell their wares despite closing of Rochester Fair

Union Leader Correspondent
September 21. 2017 7:50PM
A.J. and Louise Hamman of East Wakefield are pictured here with the quilts, pirate shirts and decorations Louise made for the Rochester Fair. The fair was canceled, but the Hammans will be selling their wares at the Lilac Mall in Rochester this weekend. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

ROCHESTER — People who usually travel to the Rochester Fair for crafts and entertainment can still enjoy some of those festivities this weekend at the nearby Lilac Mall.

Mall general manager Tom Lavigne said Thursday he decided to connect with local vendors who have been displaced by this year’s closing of the annual fair, which has been a tradition in Rochester for 142 years. In early May, the president of the Rochester Fair board, Norm Vetter, said they would not be able to hold the fair this fall because they were too deep in debt.

Lavigne said he knew crafters and groups who raise money during the fair might be looking for a space, and he has a large building and plenty of free parking.

“We changed all the rules, and we’re going to provide a venue for people to still have a diluted fair experience,” Lavigne said.

Artist Renda Cate of Gonic was set up inside the mall with her crafts and Puppy Chicken, who was in a cage so children could be exposed to an animal. Cate said she spends all year getting items together for the Rochester Fair, so she already had crafts made when the news hit that there would be no fair this year.

“We had already done work to prepare for this,” Cate said.

Down the hall, Louise Hamman of East Wakefield was selling 10 quilts she had already made for the fair. She and husband A.J. also had a selection of pirate shirts and pumpkin decorations out for people to buy.

At the fairgrounds, two new members of the board of directors were working away, going through mountains of old paperwork. They said even though the fair was not held this year, they are hoping to turn the ship around by next year.

The event at the Lilac Mall will run from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, exhibitors will be there from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Puppy Chicken, who belongs to artist Renda Cate of Gonic, was at the Lilac Mall Thursday as Cate worked to sell crafts (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

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