Indigenous artist’s painting, tales anchor Old Deerfield’s Arts and Crafts convention

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Published: 9/16/2023 12:00:03 PM

While all of the traditional features of the 47th edition of the Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival will return on Sept. 23 and 24, the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association is also putting the focus on something a little different this year.

Alongside the 120 vendors and craftspeople slated to set up at PVMA for a weekend of celebrating and honoring Deerfield’s Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the museum is pointing the spotlight at an Indigenous artist and a piece of her artwork it just acquired, as well as other historical and artistic displays.

PVMA is providing a permanent home for “50 Mishoons on the Connecticut River,” an oil painting by Wampanoag artist Deborah Spears Moorehead that depicts the Pocumtuck people trading 500 bushels of corn with starving English settlers.

“It’s an interesting story and this time of the year people are thinking of harvests,” said PVMA Executive Director Tim Neumann. He says they’re taking the crafts festival and “merging it more with history and art,” which will supplement “our usual good offering of materials.”

The Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival begins on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24 at Memorial Hall Museum, 8 Memorial St. Admission is only $5 in celebration of Deerfield’s 350th anniversary. Children 12 and under get in free and free craft activities for kids will be available.

Folks will be able to see and purchase the works of more than 100 craftspeople specializing in pottery, quilts, photography, furniture and jewelry, which is the most popular item in today’s Arts and Crafts movement. Neumann said they’ll have 18 jewelers on hand, and not all of them will be precious metals.

“Deerfield was known as an Arts and Crafts center starting in the 1890s,” Neumann said. “We keep that tradition alive.”

This year’s festival also includes many activities and exhibits with admission, including tours of Memorial Hall Museum; “Facing the Fight,” an exhibit focusing on local military history; craft demonstrations and more. A Polish food truck will also be on hand.

Along with featuring Spears Moorehead’s work, the Seaconke Pokanoket Wampanoag artist will also hold family storytelling programs at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday in the Blue and White Society Room in the 10 Memorial St. building.

Attendees are asked to park at Yankee Candle’s corporate headquarters, 16 Yankee Candle Way. Parking is free and shuttles buses will be taking people to and from PVMA. There is no parking on Memorial Street during the festival, although Neumann said neighboring residents and businesses often offer paid parking near PVMA and folks should keep an eye out for them.

The event will be held rain or shine. For more information about the 47th annual Old Deerfield Fall Arts and Crafts Festival, visit

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.

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