The Fairest of Them All

It’s time for the Arden Fair. It must be fall.

For a hardcore arts and crafts enthusiast, the Arden Fair and Antiques Market is the be all and end all of “fair” greatness. For anyone who loves eclectic home design, Arden is the neighborhood in which to saunter. Ardenites are an incredibly friendly bunch, and usually don’t mind strangers peering from a distance at their homes. What the heck. The fair has been going on for 102 years. They’re used to it by now.

The 103rd Arden Fair will be held Saturday, September 4. For those of us who’d rather stay home than fight beach traffic, the fair represents the true beginning of autumn, and as such, always falls on Labor Day weekend. The lush and historic village of Arden offers a vivid backdrop for local, handmade crafts, antiques, used books (find those inside Gild Hall), plants, live music (hear that in the Shady Grove), children’s rides, food, and an art show featuring the work of Ken Mabrey, an award-winning painter. For those annoyingly organized people who have their holiday gift lists done already, this is a good place to grab unusual items.

Even if you’re broke (And who isn’t these days?), the Arden Fair offers the most spectacular view of unusual and not-so-unusual human life forms, from tattooed women with leather necklaces to soccer moms with strollers. There will be artists, corporate types and politicians. Women will don Daisy Mae shorts or maxi skirts, and guys will wear jogging sweats or polo shirts. Since this is an election year, the politicians will wear suits decorated with campaign buttons. All live happily ever after in Arden. There is an unusual acceptance of differences at the fair, an atmosphere in which all are welcomed and none are judged.

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Arden Fair’s major perks: Admission and shuttle buses are free. Wine and beer is sold. There’s non-stop live music, featuring groups like the Diamond State Concert Band, Fontaine Cooley, Rory Sullivan, Rubber Skunk, Kalai King and the Fractured Hearts, and Montana Wildaxe. Pets are welcome, as long as they’re on leashes and owners bring bags for the business.

Most of the fun happens outside, but two air-conditioned indoor exhibit venues at Gild Hall and the Buzz Ware Village Center offer a cool and cultural respite.

Contact info:, or 475-7268. Rain date: Sunday, September 5.


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