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Vaillancourt Folk Art Hosts Weekend for “Die-Hard” Christmas Fans

Saturday, April 28, 2012

 

A guest painting their own Christmas piece.

Vaillancourt Folk Art is showcasing the best of the American holiday industry as a part of their annual Collector’s Weekend.

The festivities began yesterday when fans of the company’s work descended upon its Sutton headquarters to paint their own Christmas pieces, and learn about the process of making a Vaillancourt original.

“We’ve been doing this for the last 17 years, and it started with a group of die-hard collectors of our Santa pieces,” owner Gary Vaillancourt said. “The average person here today has probably painted nine times, and it’s just a little bit of education to go with the Christmas pieces they like so much. Sure, they like the Santa they just bought, but now they know there is a process and a culture behind it.”

The weekend continues today with a series of lectures from other influential members of the American holiday industry. Bob Byers Jr. of Byers’ Choice Carolers will speak about the model for his company’s success, and the Hanes Family, owners of Dad’s Follies, will discuss vintage candy, chocolate and ice cream molds.

A collaborative show like this would be almost unthinkable in almost any other industry, but Vaillancourt says that the holiday industry has become a tight-knit group.

“Nearly all of the Christmas industry is now outside the U.S., mostly in the Far East,” Vaillancourt said. “You would think we would be competitive, but the three of us actually work together extensively to make sure the American Christmas industry stays around.”

Vaillancourt and his wife, Judi Vaillancourt, will also be speaking today. Judi will discuss how she picks molds to use for different projects and her thought process when a high-end department store like Neiman Marcus asks her to make a custom Santa.

A lecture at last year's Collector's Weekend.

Gary will discuss the business end of the industry, highlighting how his company handles special orders from museums and other entities. He says Colonial Williamsburg is his largest customer, and his presentation will show how a special order like that fits into the business model.

While he knows he cannot keep up with companies outside of the country in terms of volume, Vaillancourt believes his company will survive because of the meticulous work done there every day.

“I learned a long time ago that the only way to succeed against outside companies is to produce pieces with very high-quality painting detail,” Vaillancourt said. “The people who collect our Santas care about that, and love the pieces, as well as the process behind them.”

The weekend wraps up tomorrow with a breakfast at Old Sturbridge Village. For more information on Collector’s Weekend, click here.
 

 

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