November 30, 2010


Laura Wolfer sets up some jams and jellies which will be on dale during Dec. 4 Christmas in the Village.
Ornaments made by local Cub Scouts will be on sale.
CHESTER -- A village is defined not so much by its geographical boundaries or its form of government, but rather by the people living together in one place.
Without the people, Saturday’s Christmas in the Village would just be another small-town craft fair.
Instead, it’s the big event here, an official kick-off to Christmas that for years has centered around
 the Chester Congregational Baptist Church cooperative of crafters. 
And once again the legion of church crafters, who go by the name Spirit Works, have stitched, sewn, knitted, crocheted, hot glued and compiled several loads of first-rate handicrafts, from ornaments and wreaths to hand-sewn “green” shopping bags that roll up neatly into a tiny package, along with bibs, prepackaged “Chester dried herbs,” preserves, lanyards, pillows, bookmarks and more. 
The event, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the church vestry, also includes a “Tiffany’s of Chester” vintage jewelry table, and coincides with a Loaf and Ladle luncheon, across from the church at Stevens Memorial Hall, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
But that’s not all. 
Sensing a growing urge among people to shop local and support local businesses, resident Laura Wolfer and her neighbors are getting in on the annual holiday festivities, transforming Wolfer’s barn into a holiday warehouse so they can capitalize on the heavy traffic already coming for the annual town-wide event. 
“I think people are just overloaded with cheap stuff from China. They want something made locally, something meaningful, or beautiful, or one of a kind,” said Wolfer, a stay-at-home mom who gave up her day job as a biologist to raise her kids and explore the possibilities on the home front. 
So far she’s made it through her first successful season as a turkey farmer, which brought an unexpected demand for Thanksgiving birds this year — so much so that she’s going to expand her flock for next season. She also makes soaps, which will be available during Saturday’s barn sale. 
“There are about 10 of us, mostly neighbors and friends, who will come together for the sale,” said Wolfer. 
Also expected: homemade jams, jellies and salsa, a collection of birdhouses and ornaments contributed by Cub Scout Pack 163, pottery, cards, potpourri and assorted food items. 
“Actually the celebration used to be much larger in town — there was an open studio event and you could go from place to place. It’s a shame that stopped, but we thought this might be a good addition,” said Wolfer. 
Although it’s more about community building than making money, Wolfer said the practice of bartering with neighbors — trading a turkey for a half-pig — has been more than satisfying. 
It’s a way of revisiting the way small-town commerce used to be, neighbor helping neighbor to make ends meet by trading goods and services. 
“My neighbor traded maple syrup for a turkey, and helped us build our turkey coop,” said Wolfer. “It’s old school, but it works.” 
Shoppers can expect a handful of other businesses and residents to be participating in Christmas in Chester with in-store specials and craft sales, all of them advertised by way of signage posted outside the stores and homes. 
Chester Congregational Baptist Church is located at 4 Chester Street. The vestry is next to the church building. 
The Wolfers’ Farm barn sale is located at 540 Candia Road and will be held from 10 a.m. 
to 4 p.m. 

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