Story and photos by Mary Cirincione
The annual arts, crafts and antiques fair that has long been a staple of Round Lake summers underwent a complete makeover for 2016, thanks to an exciting new vision courtesy of the Woman’s Round Lake Improvement Society, and a few high-profile sponsors like Death Wish Coffee Co. and Edible Capital District.
Held in Round Lake village on August 13 and 14, locals and visitors alike strolled through a series of four curated markets with 70 vendors—craft, food, indie and books—able to taste, sample, feel and browse everything from small-batch rye and whiskey, courtesy of Albany Distilling Co. and Yankee Distillers, to hand-sewn bibs in funky fabrics from Fawn.
“It’s really about sharing my art with everyone,” says Krissy Monahan, owner of Breakout Press Co. in Catskill, who screen prints cards, totes and the in-between for the hipster set. “With our collection, we try to be witty and whimsical and we want to make sure we give you an honest laugh—or at least a good chuckle.”
That’s the same mindset behind Troy-based Weird Beard Candle Co., the brainchild of Mike and Crystal Capritta, which pairs flavorful scents with pop culture heros—think Walter White from Breaking Bad and video game characters like Mega Man. “We do the freak and geek stuff, really,” he says.
Christine Brown, of Worcester, MA., likes to mix adult favorites with baby items—like hamburger-shaped rattles or fry-printed bibs. “Fawn is about coming up with funky, original, bright and unique things for babies, but really it’s for adults too,” she says. Like many of her market neighbors, Brown primarily sells on Etsy, an internet-based retail hub for craft and vintage goods.
To satiate the inner wild man, Ken Vaughn had dozens of hand-carved and handcrafted knives made from exotic wood, antler and resin. As the owner of Caribou Creek Knives, Vaughn learned his craft in Alaska, where he lived for 26 years, before returning home to New York. “I started off in antler carving, and just sort of went from there,” he says. For him, each knife isn’t merely an art piece. It’s completely functional.
Katie Camarro, owner and “Sweet Chief” of Sundaes Best in Saratoga, had 11 flavors of her classic, ooey-gooey hot fudge for sale—which, thanks to nearly 100-degree heat, was melted to perfection for tasting purposes. “It’s a 50-year- old recipe, with only five ingredients: real cocoa, sugar, butter, chocolate and cream,” Camarros says. “And it’s perfect on ice cream, cakes, pretzels… anything. You can eat it right out of the jar, too.”
The same goes for Ben Madley’s maple syrup, although it might be more fair to call it a jug. “If you can’t tell, our main thing is maple,” he says, as the owner of Maple Leaf Sugaring in Ghent. Even better Maple syrup spun into cotton candy, available by the bag.
Since you can’t have sweetness without a bit of spice, Raema Rotindo, the owner of Rockerbox Spice Co., was on hand with dozens of flavored garlic powders and onion salts, all made by her. This Hudson- based “spiceologist” comes from a long line of garlic farmers, and her recipes for roasting garlic go back generations. The end result: Her powders, salts and spreads are pure and flavorful: “They’re a lot stronger than the store-bought mixes you see.”
For those looking to accessorize in a sustainable way, Virginia Fretto, owner of Malta-based Razimus Jewelry, offered handmade jewelry, including bracelets crafted with bright plant-dyed yarns, vintage fabrics and metal beads. “They’re lightweight and meant to be stacked,” Fretto says. They’re also available in Saratoga, at Lifestyles boutique and the National Museum of Racing.
Ashleigh Johns, owner of The Grey Birch in Albany, also specializes in the handmade—from jewelry to screen-printed t-shirts, everything of her own design. “When I heard about this market, it sounded right up my alley,” she says. “And it was close to home, which is probably the best part.”
Craft liquors and ciders made the sweltering heat—and then pouring rain—more palatable for market goers, who could taste small-batch whiskey, rye, bourbon, vodka, rum and various ciders by the thimble-full.
At Albany Distilling Co., visitors were encouraged to sample three varieties of Ironweed whiskey, followed by ALB vodka and an honored guest—Death Wish Coffee Co. coffee-flavored vodka—made more convenient by the fact that the Death Wish booth was barely five feet away. First-time Death Wish drinkers could cool down with a sip of vodka, then warm up with a small hot cup of coffee—or vice versa. It doesn’t hurt that Death Wish coffee has twice the caffeine of your average cup. Kane Grogan, who handles advertising and special events for Death Wish Coffee Co., says getting involved as a major sponsor was a no-brainer. “We don’t ever get the opportunity to do something with the community, so when they asked us, it was like how could we say no to that?” Grogan and his colleagues had freebies on hand to get even Death Wish newbies enthused about the brand, headquartered in Round Lake. Drink koozies, stickers, sunglasses and comic books were stacked and up-for- grabs.
For those looking for a mixed drink as opposed to downing something straight, a quick stop by The Hudson Standard and Hedonic Tonic lent a small-batch, natural-based solution: apple cider vinegar-based tonics. Aside from bitters, Hudson specializes in shrubs, which are blends of fruit syrup, sweetener and vinegar that can be added to seltzer as a soda alternative, or mixed with a spirit.
Jill Malouf, founder of Hedonic Tonic in Albany, brews every bottle of her playful tonic herself, using organic lemongrass, lime and cane sugar. “It’s great with gin,” she says. “Just don’t add it to any of that flowery crap.”
Rose & Dale Photo Co., a vintage Airstream trailer that doubles as a photo booth—gutted, then polished into a fab lounge, with seating areas and velvet pillows—was perched nearby, to offer classic photo strip souvenirs. According to Liz Skrelja, photographer in residence, the lux trailer is meant to go wherever it’s needed to up the fun factor with a hipster favorite.
A reported 15,000 used books were also available for sale in the Round Lake Auditorium, which doubled as a great hideout when the rain started and deluged more than a few canopies, leaving artisans in puddles and guests drenched.
Food trucks, musical guests and a beer truck for imbibing courtesy of the Olde Saratoga Brewing Co., were also on hand to keep things lively, despite the weather. For more information on the markets or its vendors, head to www.marketsatroundlake.com. The weekend event benefitted the Round Lake Libraries, and admission was free.