Rebecca Goodale turns the wheel of a press while demonstrating relief print making during the 2021 Maine Craft Weekend at Circling the Square Fine Art Press at 275 Water St. in downtown Gardiner. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

GARDINER — Art Chamberlin knows wood carving can attract a crowd.

“We go to things like the Common Ground Fair and the Cumberland Fair and put out some of our finished work,” Chamberlin said. “Those of us that go will sit and carve something while we’re there. People love to watch us carve.”

On Saturday, people will have the chance to see Chamberlin and other members of the Maine Wood Carvers Association show their work in Gardiner, when the group holds its 35th annual show and competition, one of the many events scheduled for Maine Craft Weekend.

The statewide event draws crafters, artists and makers of all kind from across the state for studio tours, performances, demonstrations, pop-up shows and craft fairs over the long holiday weekend, when tourism and leaf-peeping reach their peak.

While attendees will get to see the pieces the association’s members and others have brought for display, along with tools and books for sale, they will also see carvers at work during the show at the Gardiner Lions Club Armory at 25 Lions St.

Chamberlin, who taught industrial arts at Dirigo High School in Dixfield for years and added a wood carving elective there, continues to teach it as an adult education course. He said he is always pleased to draw in those with an interest in the traditional art.


“We’re always looking to pick up younger kids,” he said. “The association tends to be older, retired guys.”

Gathering wood carvers of all skill levels at one place lets people see what the Maine wood carvers do, Chamberlin said, and allows carvers, some of whom like to compete, to see how their work stacks up against that of others from around the region.

“I always enter because I feel like I should have some work out there,” Chamberlin, a past president of the organization, said. “I’m really not into the competition part.”

Among the weekend’s scheduled events across the state are the 24th Annual Freeport Fall Festival, a three-day event with more than 200 artists, makers and food producers; a Sidewalk Chalk Art Show on Saturday in Biddeford for teens and children; the Flowered Apron and Friends Pop Up Market on Saturday in Bar Harbor; a free candle dipping demonstration on Saturday at Mimi’s Craft Basket in Ellsworth; and the Madison Business Alliance Handmade Marketplace on Saturday and Sunday in Madison.

The event is a collaboration of the Maine Craft Association and Maine Made, an initiative of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Mallory Levesque looks at twirling dresses for children during the 2021 Maine Craft Weekend in downtown Gardiner. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

Tammy Knight, Maine Made’s program manager, said the event focuses on local initiatives and gives people the opportunity to meet with makers and hear their stories.


“It gives it that more personal approach,” Knight said, “and (attendees) find out how (makers) decided to do jewelry or pottery or print work, and just to hear their story.”

Learning about the makers gives their creations more importance and significance than something that does not come with a story, according to Knight.

“The other part of this is that we’re right in the midst of fall foliage season, and a lot of travelers are coming to the state who buy a product at one of these events or from one of these vendors,” she said. “That resonates the experience they had in Maine. It’s original, it’s authentic, it’s the people, it’s the work ethic. It’s the whole ball of wax.”

As part of the weekend, communities across Maine have signed up to be featured locations that coordinate a number of different events. This year, Belfast returns as a featured community, joining Biddeford, Ellsworth, Freeport, Gardiner and Monson.

In all, more than 200 events are scheduled this year, according to Simonne Feeney, a programs manager at the Maine Crafts Association.

“For the artists, there’s exposure,” Feeney said. “You get to share your work in a little more personal way. You’re opening up your work space or providing a demonstration you don’t typically do.”

And for the public, it is a chance to explore a new community or region, visit with a favorite artist and take home a handcrafted item, she said.

Elsewhere in Gardiner, Feeney said a number of makers are taking part in the Swine & Stein Brewfest, and Monkitree is hosting a Maine Wood Turning and Carving Show, which is in addition to the Wood Carvers Association show at the Gardiner Lions Club, at which prizes are to be awarded at 3 p.m.

While Craft Weekend events are generally free, Chamberlin said the event costs $3, and children younger than 12 and seniors can enter for free.

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