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The Face Behind CraftWestport

Westport resident Dorothy Baliban knows first-hand how much work it is to coordinate one the largest events held in town. She is chairwoman of CraftWestport , a national craft show organized by the Westport Young Woman's League .

"It's pretty much a year-round process. When my chair-ship ends, we're already planning for the next year. It's constantly in the forefront for the woman's league," said Dorothy, 52. "So I started a year ago: The school needed to be booked a year in advance, the banners needed to be ordered a year in advance. It has its ebbs and highs, but it's always there."

Now in its 35th year, CraftWestport , formerly known as Westport Creative Arts Festival, is a town tradition. This year, 160 crafters, some coming from as far as California, will show off their work at the two-day event held at Staples High School.

With specialty foods, clothing, jewelry and even handcrafted furniture, CraftWestport has something for everyone, Dorothy said. In fact, she's expecting the event will draw 4,000 to 5,000 people. Last year's show, she said, drew about 3,500.

Although this is Dorothy's first year chairing CraftWestport, she was the event co-chair in 2007 and has chaired several other large charity events before joining the league eight years ago. Even still, she said she couldn't have pulled this off without the help of her co-chair and all the other volunteers.

"The women I work with are amazing. We also have outside volunteers," Dorothy said. "I may have chaired and co-chaired events, but I couldn't have done this without the wonderful people that helped me."

Though it may have been hectic at times, Dorothy said it would be worth the effort when the net proceeds are donated to charities. Last year, she said a total of $70,000 was given to 45 charities.

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