It’s shocking but true. Holly Fair was a two-day seasonal sale sponsored by the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Dozens of artists and crafters converged every year at CCAE’s two buildings in Harvard Square on the second weekend in December.
The fair was a long-standing holiday tradition in Cambridge and also served as a fundraiser for CCAE. But no more. Participating artists received a letter last month from Susan Hartnett, CCAE’s executive director, with the bad news.
The letter read, in part: “It is with regret that the Cambridge Center for Adult Education will be suspending Holly Fair in 2015.”
And the explanation? “We wish this was not necessary but the Center’s Board of Directors has decided that the Center needs to focus its limited resources on its core mission – offering a diverse mix of high quality and fairly priced classes to the community. Organizing the Center for the two day Holly Fair places very large demands on staff and facilities that we aren’t equipped to provide at this point in time.”
Recent years saw changes in the fee structure and the staffing, so perhaps this should not have come as a surprise. But it’s a big loss for the artisans, the shoppers, and the Cambridge community.
I’ve been participating in Holly Fair for about eight years, always at the 56 Brattle Street location, and the event was the cornerstone of my holiday art calendar. But Holly Fair was not just about sales; it was also about unexpected connections.
Holly Fair was the birthplace of the Long Live Circle Cinema campaign to save the theater’s mid-century sign. I met fellow sign supporter Susan Legere at Holly Fair when she stopped by my display and we started chatting.
Holly Fair was how I got my first introduction to the folks at Arsenal Center for the Arts, an organization that has displayed my work on its walls and in its shop over the years.
Holly Fair was where I had a chance to catch up with friends and acquaintances who always knew where to find me come December.
And, finally, Holly Fair was about the camaraderie of my fellow artists at 56 Brattle — Chikako Mukai, Rebecca Scott, Victoria Tane, Barbara Thomas, and Mina Gibb. December won’t be the same without you.
RIP Holly Fair. We will miss you.