PORTLAND — It looked like a arts and craft fair just outside the Casco Bay Lines Ferry Terminal on Saturday.

More than 20 artisans had set up tables, selling jewelry, candles, soap, scarves and even Christmas ornaments along the sidewalk and in Bell Buoy Park.

But it wasn’t an organized fair.

Individual artists arrived as early as 6 a.m. to secure a prime spot in preparation for the arrival of the Enchantment of the Seas.

Darlene Schink of Rockland has come to Portland once or twice a week throughout the summer to sell her jewelry, usually on days when cruise ships call to port.

Of all the jewelry on her table, she said her signature item is “the tree of life,” which uses wire and beads to create a tree within a tear-drop shaped hoop. She comes to Portland to show off her work.

“I work really hard,” Schink said.

Coming to Portland on days when cruise ships call to port is added fun, she said, “because I’m meeting people from all over.”

Nearly 2,250 passengers came off the cruise ship and spent Saturday roaming city streets.

Artisans are allowed to display and sell their wares without a permit in the city. Add that to thousands of cruise ship passengers who walk by on their way to the Old Port and as they return to board their ship at the Ocean Gateway International Marine Terminal, setting up shop in Bell Buoy Park has become very popular.

It’s something Portland artist and crafter Diana Ellis has noticed. This is the third season she’s set up a table to sell her jewelry and photographs, among other crafts. She sees the boom of street artists as a good thing though.

“It’s competition,” she said, no different than retail stores that pop up in clusters.

Michelle Byras said having the street artists adds atmosphere to Portland. It’s also a “major asset” for the Maine College of Art student who has been selling her jewelry on the streets of Portland for nearly eight years.

“I love it. As an artist it gives me a chance to show off my work,” she said. “And customers appreciate us being here.”

But both Byras and Ellis admit the crowd of artisans has drawn attention from city officials.

Street artist regulations outlined by the city allow artisans, but not necessarily crafters, to sell their work. There’s also the concern that as street artists grow in popularity the sidewalks and public ways will become too congested.

City Councilor Kevin Donoghue said it boils down to a question of defining art and enforcing the regulations.

“It’s so political,” said Ellis, who doesn’t see a problem. “For a lot of people, this is their livelihood at this point.”

 


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