Wampum jewelry, children’s art, pottery, headwear, and handicrafts filled Aquinnah town hall this weekend for the 4th Annual Aquinnah Artisans Holiday Fair.

Juli Vanderhoop, with Orange Peel Bakery. — Ray Ewing

Nearly two dozen vendors, many of them Wampanoag artists and artisans, set up booths for the festive event, catered by Orange Peel Bakery and Jeff and Vika Duarte. Select board member and Orange Peel founder Juli Vanderhoop said Islanders from every town paid a visit, fulfilling her hopes to see town hall become more of a community hub.

“The town absolutely loves to fill this space with something like this,” she said. “It’s a great, eclectic bunch of people.” 

Jamie Vanderhoop manned the table for her husband Durwood Vanderhoop, an artisan selling traditional bottled Aquinnah clay. Only Wampanoag tribal members are allowed to take clay from the cliffs, she explained, and the practice of bottling the clay has gone back centuries.

The fair ran both on Saturday and Sunday. — Ray Ewing

Several artists showed off their own interpretations of the traditional crafts used by the Wampanoag peoples for thousands of years. Some, like Tysonnae Butterfly Woman of Red Tail Boutique, added a contemporary spin to traditional beads and accessories. Longtime wampum artist Donald Widdiss showcased his jewelry inspired by seventeenth-century history and techniques, honed after decades of craftsmanship. 

Other vendors had taken up their pursuits much more recently. Junior Belain, a 12-year-old from West Tisbury, had only been making handmade paracord lanyards and keychains for three years when he decided to make it a business. Saturday marked the first time he set up shop at a fair. 

“It was a hobby, and it was a lot of fun so I thought it could be fun to sell things too,” Junior said. Four months in, he said making paracords is still fun. His favorite design to make is the monkey’s fist, a tight ball of braided cord.

“It’s pretty hard [to make] but I’ve been doing it a long time,” he said.

Tysonnae Butterfly Woman oversees her display. — Ray Ewing

Junior shared his booth with his neighbor, friend and fellow businessman, Logan Caramanna. At just 8 and three-quarters, Logan was by far the youngest vendor at the fair, representing his independent publishing business, Bear Box Books. Started in 2021, Bear Box Books began as a series of stories following a group of troublesome bears, but soon expanded into handmade paper and cards, too. 

Logan dutifully minded his booth behind a large analog cash register roughly the size of his body. When asked what common thread ran through all of his books, he replied, “Life lessons.”

“The bears always get into mischief, but in the end, they always learn a life lesson,” he said.

More pictures.