HARVEY CEDARS — Hundreds of people went out in record heat Saturday for a chance to buy homemade crafts such as small airplanes made out of beer cans.
“It’s too hot for the beach,” said Harry McGuckin, 52, of Lambertville, Hunterdon County, while perusing booths at the annual Craft Day by the Bay at Sunset Park with his wife, Crystal, 43. “We have a 4-year-old, so it would have been too hot to sit on the sand all day.”
“And what fun would it be to spend your whole vacation inside?” Crystal McGuckin asked. “This is something enjoyable for us to do.”
But the McGuckins, repeat customers at Craft Day by the Bay, and other craft enthusiasts had a shorter window in which to wander through the tents of the approximately 100 crafters and artists in attendance Saturday, as the event was cut short by a couple hours due to temperatures that reached as high as 100 degrees.
“We are in a good location, because we’re right on the bay and have the constant breeze blowing through here. So it’s not as hot as it is in some other places,” said Roberta Giannone, director of Craft Day by the Bay. “But it’s too hot. It would have been unfair to keep going.”
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for Long Beach Island and the entire area Saturday.
But Giannone still called the juried, high-quality craft show a success.
“Overall, we had a lighter turnout than normal. But we were heavier than expected in the morning, so people still made money and enjoyed themselves,” said Giannone, who added that the show has been held on Fourth of July weekend for almost two decades.
Steve and Anne Fortunak have been regulars at the craft show since they started making, then selling, their specialized crafts nine years ago.
Stationed between tents featuring intricate wood carvings and breathtaking artwork, the couple from the Beach Haven West section of Stafford Township surpassed their sales goal Saturday by selling more than four dozen of the small airplanes they made out of soda and beer cans.
“The heat is brutal and there are less people walking around, but we sold more than we expected,” Steve Fortunak said. “I guess we offer something unique enough that people who have bought from us in the past came back looking for us.”
But the Fortunaks pass a lot of the credit for their crafts along to others.
An uncle taught them how to make the airplanes, and they get help collecting the beer cans.
“We have a lot of wonderful neighbors,” Anne Fortunak said through a smile.
Craft Day by the Bay is typically the first show of the summer for Philadelphia-area pastel artist Tim Groshow.
“I’ve been coming here for about 15 years now because LBI has a terrific arts-and-crafts scene,” said Groshow, 49, who met his sales goal Saturday despite the heat. “And this is a great show because it attracts a lot of repeat customers. And it’s located close to the bay and the beach, which is also nice, especially on hot days like this.”
To escape the heat Saturday, Groshow and his 10-year-old daughter, Zoe, dipped their heads under the park’s outdoor showers.
“Today was fun because we sold a lot, so we got to buy a lot of things,” Zoe said. “But the showers were the best part.”
But even though heavy traffic heading onto Long Beach Island on Saturday was clearly not all heading to the craft show, some people — such as Harvey Cedars residents Amanda Everett, 17, and Jessica Finlayson, 15 — made sure to stop by on their way to cooler destinations.
“We just got out of work, and we wanted to stop and check out what they had here,” Everett said. “But the beach is definitely next.”
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