Sugarloaf Craft Festivals to close after 45 years

One of the D.C. region’s best craft shows — Sugarloaf Craft Festivals — has fallen victim to the economic realities of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sugarloaf emailed the news to people who have gone to its shows to buy handmade purses and jewelry, colorful photos, high-end fine art and more, and put it on its website.

For 45 years, we have been in awe of our artists’ talents and creativity and resiliency. We have all shared joys, and sadness, and watched each other grow. We have seen children fall in love with art at Sugarloaf and return as artists themselves as adults. We’ve survived through wars, recessions, terrorist attacks, political upheaval, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and more. Through it all, Sugarloaf has fostered community connections and friendships that will last a lifetime.”

But with no cash flow, Sugarloaf said, it had to close.

Unfortunately, the global pandemic sparking cancellations of large public gatherings makes it impossible for our business to continue … With no cash flow coming in, even a well-managed company cannot survive indefinitely. Sadly, today we must announce that Sugarloaf Craft Festivals will close.”

Sugarloaf grew from a small, juried craft festival in 1975 to a huge, traveling festival with hundreds of established and emerging artisans.

Sugarloaf Crafts vendor
A crafter holds a glass vase at a Sugarloaf Craft Festival. (Courtesy YouTube/Sugarloaf Crafts Festival)

Every day the festival came to Gaithersburg or Timonium, in Maryland or Chantilly, in Virginia, it would draw thousands of buyers, all looking for unique gifts or art for their homes.

Seeing everything at a Sugarloaf show at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, Maryland State Fairgrounds or the Dulles Expo Center would take all day in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. In addition to the crafts, the shows often featured live demonstrations and food.

The festival, often ranked among the top 50 in the nation, said on its website that it has “helped launch the entrepreneurial careers of more than 100,000 artists and craftspeople.”

On its website, Sugarloaf still has a directory of its craftspeople.

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Colleen Kelleher

Colleen Kelleher is an award-winning journalist who has been with WTOP since 1996. Kelleher joined WTOP as the afternoon radio writer and night and weekend editor and made the move to in 2001. Now she works early mornings as the site's Senior Digital Editor.

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