WINTHROP — Gloomy weather looked like it may put a damper of Winthrop’s Summer Festival, but hundreds came out to browse locally crafted goods and the town’s small, charming downtown.

Local shops had their doors open Saturday mornings as families mosied up and down a small section of Main Street. Executive Director of the Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Barbara Walsh said the event is a great way to show off the town’s character.

“We’re not New York City’s premier artists, but there’s something for everyone,” Walsh said. “Everybody in the community takes part. (Winthrop) is a small town with a lot of character.”

The event, which held its 32nd edition on Saturday, began solely as an art festival, Walsh said, but other events slowly sprouted up around to round it out. Residents capitalized on in-town traffic by holding yard sales, area churches hosted their all-pie or lobster roll luncheons, Bailey Public Library and TheGypsyCanvas held children’s art programs and, later in the afternoon, Van Der Brew brewery hosted a cornhole tournament.

Steve and Heather Groves, of Winthrop, were spending the day with their dog, Cole, and sons Tyler, 11, and Everett, 3. Heather Groves said the family was enjoying the opportunity to see their friends and “the small-town feel” of their hometown. Tyler Groves said he enjoyed one vendor that made wooden dog bowls and Everett Groves, who shyly hid behind Cole from the Kennebec Journal’s questions, declined to comment.

Two Main Street lots were packed with white canopies, under which artisans peddled their wares. Walsh said organizers pride themselves on offering a wide variety of craft goods. Vendors ranged from bakers to potters to olive oil producers.

Don Kerr, a retired art teacher, was giving demonstrations of wire art outside of his booth. His wife, Eileen, said all of his visitors were captivated by a foot-long wire lobster, which Don Kerr said took about 60 feet of wire — and even more patience — to make.

“It’s a drawing translated into space,” he said.

“They go ‘wow, we haven’t seen this at many of the shows,'” Eileen Kerr added.

It was an award-winning evening for Tinalyn Caisse, a Winthrop-based artist. Caisse, who specialized in found-object or assemblage art, won first prize in the fine crafts booth contest for her setup, which was adorned with her art and jewelry. Her work combines her own paintings with seemingly random objects, like staircase banisters, old locker hardware and even her son’s Chinese calligraphy homework. She said she sources old canvas from thrift shops and visits local transfer stations and even dumpsters to find materials.

Caisse, who moved to Winthrop last year, said this was her first time at the festival. A retired social worker, Caisse said Winthrop has stimulated her and relaxed her, allowing her to create the art she is inspired to make.

“It’s a really lovely place to live,” she said.


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