Sugarloaf Mountain Works was founded in 1975 by Deann and George Verdier, a school teacher and an engineer, who envisioned a well-curated art and crafts market where top-quality goods could be sold at a low overhead cost to artisans. That original concept of providing a low-overhead marketplace where artists and craftspeople could sell their unique creations direct to the public remains the cornerstone of Sugarloaf Craft Festivals today.
The first-ever Sugarloaf Craft Festival was held in Gaithersburg, Md. in the spring of 1976. Over 10,000 people came out to see the 200 artisans we had gathered together. A success was declared by all and Sugarloaf Mountain Works was well on its way to the reputation it has carved out in the art and crafts worlds today.
The focus of these shows has always been on contemporary crafts and fine art. Some top-quality folk art is accepted, but most of what’s considered “country crafts” or “home crafts” is not suited to the Sugarloaf niche. These craft forms are adequately represented in the thousands of local free craft shows throughout the nation. Sugarloaf shows needed to be something special — a real treat for our audience to enjoy — which is why we implement a jury process to ensure the best of the best hand-crafted arts and goods are sold at Sugarloaf.
From the very beginning, Sugarloaf Craft shows were juried by images to maintain quality for our discriminating audience. Judgment of each application is based on quality of design, workmanship and materials. It has always been more important to maintain the quality of our shows than to simply rent out spaces. In the early years, there were many shows where we turned away hundreds of artisans even though all spaces were not sold. Quality is, and has always been, the key to the Sugarloaf reputation.