, Salem, MA


July 25, 2013

Crafts take center stage at Olde Ipswich Days

At 379 years of age, the town of Ipswich is a lot older than Olde Ipswich Days, the annual celebration of its history.

But as the heritage event enters its 43rd year this weekend with a crafts fair, live musical performances by local bands Swamp Groove and One More, and plenty of good things to eat, it has seen plenty of changes.

“It started with 17th century days, They made quite an event here; the historical houses were open,” said Sue Burton, who has helped organize the event for more than 30 years. “We also had the Ipswich marathon, but we’ve lost the marathon.”

The event itself used to be something of a marathon, lasting nine days, but has since been cut to three.

“Now it’s primarily the crafts fair,” Burton said. “The friends of the library will have a used book sale. The Boy Scout troop has always run the booth where you get hot dogs and hamburgers — it’s one of their big fundraisers. The Ipswich High graduating class of 2014 will sell slush, and the cheerleaders will sell fudge.”

“But 10 years ago, it narrowed down to the crafts fair,” she said.

With so much focus on this part of the celebration, Burton and her committee of four other volunteers try to provide a variety of vendors.

“It’s a small fair, so what we try to do is not overlap,” Burton said. “You can only have so many jewelers or potters.”

Limiting the number of vendors also allows the committee to pick and choose.

“Over a period of time, we just had many more applications, so we would really pick,” she said. “They’re getting to see the best of the best.”

They have also tried to make sure that not only all tastes, but also every pocketbook, will be pleased with their options at the fair.

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