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Kenan Center Craftsmen show becoming younger, more local

LOCKPORT – Although many of the artisans at this weekend’s 100 American Craftsmen show come from great distances, there is an effort afoot to bring in more locals, as well as younger artists.

The Kenan Center’s 46th annual high-end craft show is set for Friday through Sunday, and again will feature a special opportunity for newcomers – especially college students studying art – to show their wares.

Dealers will fill the 108 booths on the main floor of the Kenan Arena at 195 Beattie Ave. in Lockport; but a side area, the Annex Marketplace, will be the place to find new talent, often at lower prices than in the main show.

Elaine Harrigan, marketing director for the Kenan Center, said this is the second year for the Annex Marketplace.

“Two of the artisans who were in the annex last year were accepted to the main show this year,” she said.

Many of those in the 11-booth annex will be students from the design department at SUNY Buffalo State, coordinated by Colleen Toledano, assistant professor of ceramics.

“We’re kind of hoping this is going to be an ongoing thing,” Harrigan said. “I have no idea what we’re getting yet, because they’re still getting it together.”

The college involvement started last year and seemed to achieve its goal, which was to give the show a younger profile.

Harrigan said there seemed to be more young faces among the 3,500 people who attended the show in 2015, a figure that was an increase from the previous year.

“The students are all on social media and we knew they would tell their friends,” Harrigan said. “You have to cultivate the younger audience, or you won’t have a successful show for very many years.”

Attendees will be able to vote for a People’s Choice Award winner among the Annex Marketplace artisans, some of whom went through the Kenan Center’s jury-based selection process but didn’t quite make the cut for the main show.

On the main floor, where artisans are admitted only by convincing the jury of their artistic merit, there are 32 newcomers. Those participating come primarily from the northeastern U.S., but some will come from as far away as Texas and California. Six previous master craftsmen and best-of-show winners are returning.

The lineup includes some Lockport residents, which is a rarity despite the show’s location. Veteran furniture maker Paul Carlino was admitted to the main floor for the first time. Daniel Dorociak, who makes various types of containers out of concrete, and Russell Halstead, who does ceramics, were chosen for the annex.

“It’s really nice to have some more people from Lockport. It’s been thin from Niagara County,” Harrigan said.

Also on the roster of rookies are Donna Mileham, a basketry artisan, and Monica White, a fiber artisan, both from North Tonawanda.

“Our musical entertainment and food vendors make shopping for beautiful crafts even more appealing,” said Selena Truax Morello, event co-chairwoman and second vice president of the Kenan Center Board of Governors.

Besides the music and food, there will be a raffle for crafts donated by some of the artisans, a quilt raffle and a wine booth. The annual herbal plant sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Show hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6, but there is a coupon worth $1 off for two people available at 100americancraftsmen.com. Students and military families are admitted at half-price.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com