04/07/2021 08:30 a.m. EST
Ever since she was young, Kirsten Lombardi has had a creative side. She has always turned to crafting to unwind, but when she was pregnant with her first child, she left her full-time position to focus on her family and decided to turn her crafting into a side gig.
“I’ve enjoyed crafting since I was little,” says Kirsten, who with her husband Raymond now has a three-year-old, Rocco, and a 10-month-old, Lucca. “I took extra art classes in high school and when I had kids, I knew it’d be a good way to do something I enjoy and bring in a little extra income.”
Kirsten created The Krafted Company in 2016, creating and selling reclaimed wood projects and other home decor with a “farmhouse rustic feel.” She also hosts group craft classes. A year later, she joined the North Haven Fair as a craft vendor. After being involved for two years, she had gotten to know Jeanne Lewis, who encouraged her to get involved on the volunteer side of the fair.
In 2019, Kirsten began volunteering, not only helping at the fair, but for special events as well. In the past, the North Haven Fair has hosted a Winter Fest and Kirsten helped bring in vendors and set up.
When COVID-19 struck in early 2020, it canceled not only the North Haven Fair (and many of Kirsten’s other craft events) but the Winter Fest as well. While Kirsten missed live events, the timing actually worked out for her family as she had her second child in the early days of the pandemic.
“It was almost a blessing that I was able to just focus on my little one and my three-year-old,” says Kirsten. “I was also able to make some time to keep crafting so I have a pretty good stock and was able to add inventory. With everything having been on pause, I’m looking forward to being in person and making new connections.”
One of Kirsten’s favorite things about crafting is the community. When she became a vendor, she met some of her fellow crafters, but once she began volunteering, she found even deeper connections.
With restrictions easing and vaccines becoming more plentiful, Kirsten and other volunteers got together to bring a vendor event back to town. Kirsten is now reaching out to those connections, as well as discovering new ones, as she is helping to organize the North Haven Fair’s Craft Barn Outdoor Series, which was recently approved by the board of the North Haven Fair, which is still deciding on the fate of the 2021 North Haven Fair.
The Craft Barn Outdoor Series will be held one Saturday a month from May to October from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the North Haven Fair Grounds, 290 Washington Ave. Each Saturday of the Craft Barn Outdoor Series will have a theme, including Mother’s Day on May 1, Father’s Day on June 19, Christmas Eve in July on July 24, Dog Days of Summer on Aug. 14, Fair Time on Sept. 11, and Fall Festival on Oct. 2.
Those attending the Craft Barn Outdoor Series can expect to find a wide variety of crafters, direct-sale vendors, and food trucks. Kirsten says that so far there are about 30 crafters interested in participating with products including wooden reclaimed crafts, candles, jewelry, crochet, custom leather, vegan leather, fabric bows, homemade cards, wreaths and center pieces, personalized gifts, portrait artist, soaps and body products, and more.
“We’re really excited to be able to do one every month and be able to still support the vendors who attend the fair,” says Kirsten. “We have many vendors already interested, but we’re always looking for new vendors to reach out to us. We’re trying to limit the same type of vendors so we’ll have a really great variety of items.”
For information about becoming a vendor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. In addition to craft vendors, there will also be food and dessert trucks. Kirsten and the other volunteers are also working to incorporate a kids’ activity so it can be “a family outing.” There is no admission fee for visitors and the event will be completely outdoors for social distancing.
With two small children at home, Kirsten notes that she tries to find time for both her volunteering and her crafting when she can. She has also learned to make time for other things for herself during the pandemic. In November, she was looking for a new routine and now wakes up at 5 a.m. every day in order to work out. She is also looking forward to adult slow-pitch softball starting again.
“Finding time is always a challenge, but I try to take an hour or two for myself after the kids go to bed to focus on my projects for the week,” says Kirsten. “My three-year-old also really likes projects, so during the day, we can do some fun, messy stuff. My mother always helps me out, too, and has done a lot of volunteer work with me, especially for the Winter Fest. She’s my partner in crime and she helps me out a lot.”
In addition to the Craft Barn Outdoor Series, the North Haven Fair has other events in the works, as well including a weekly farmers’ market slated to be held on Wednesdays and the North Haven “Fair” Food Festival on Saturday, June 26 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Food vendors will be offering fair favorites, including fried dough, fresh-squeezed lemonade, fried Oreos, cotton candy, pulled pork, donuts, baked potatoes, kettle corn, fresh-cut fries, and more.
While Kirsten is hoping for a return to the North Haven Fair for 2021, for now she is concentrating on building the Craft Barn Outdoor Series so she can not only share her creations, but reconnect with the crafting community.
“Vendors love live events because they love the community and the interaction with customers and making friends within the craft community. It’s such a great community and everyone is so supportive of each other,” says Kirsten. “I enjoy volunteering, too, because I get to reach out to other crafters and it’s fun to see what unique crafts are out there.”