The art of holiday shopping got off to a fast start Saturday as hundreds converged on the Staples High School fieldhouse for CraftWestport, the annual showcase and sale of unique fine arts, hosted by the Westport Young Woman's League.

The 38th annual event continues Sunday, from 10 to 5 p.m., at the school, 70 North Ave.

A wide range of work by 170 artists and craftsmen, many showing wares never seen before in Westport, is featured this year.

"This is our major fundraiser for local charities that the league supports," said Dot Baliban, the WYWL's the co-chairwoman of the Admissions Committee. "It funds art, education and family services predominantly, and almost 30 current grant recipients. Last year we raised approximately $48,000."

Baliban called the event as the "jump-off" to the holiday season, which besides the dozens of vendors, offered baked goods, gourmet food items, a cafe, a raffle supporting Staples High School, food and a Pop-up Market."

The art and crafts on sale included sculpture, apparel accessories, jewelry, baby items, handbags, art work and more.

Cindy Slater, for example, accompanied by her young niece, Madelyne Cyr, offered Letter C Design stationery. Her display was located in the Pop-up Market section, a new feature this year.

Gary Breault and Deanna Bellacicco's business, Bella's Home-Baked Goods, was another popular draw. Participants in CraftWestport for several years, they sold crunchy biscotti of all sizes and flavors.

Ron and Jacki Baker trekked down from Vermont with their Mother Myricks Confections, joined by Westporter Nikhita Shankar, a friend and volunteer.

Ayenne Applebaum, an experienced scuba diver who maintains homes in New Jersey and Florida, displayed porcelain sculptures that all had sea themes or depicted undersea life.

James Perry, owner of the Cordwainer, of Greeneville, Tenn., was custom-crafting belts on site, taking a waist measurement and cutting and fitting straps of leather to match.

Margaret Wozniak showed high-fired stoneware sculpture.

It was all a treat -- and a walk down memory lane -- for Tracye Mueller of Chester. "I used to come here with friends 15 years ago when my kids were younger, but then I got busy as an artist myself, especially at the holidays," she said. "One of those friends asked me to go to this year, so I put down all my work and decided to come."

The Westport Young Women's League is a group of local women interested in volunteerism and commitment to community service. Members organize fundraising events, service drives and projects -- CraftWestport is the group's signature driver.

For more information about the event, visit