One of the lesser-known events surrounding Veterans Day is the annual craft fair that happens at the Santa Clara American Legion Post 419 on Homestead Road. For 14 years now, the American Legion has hosted local crafters and shoppers.
“This is the most inexpensive craft fair in the valley. Most of these craft shows are charging these little old ladies like $100 a day and times are hard,” said Cindy Newman, who started the craft fair shortly after she joined the American Legion 15 years ago. “So, this is where you can pick up some gifts for your family for holidays or for birthdays or anniversaries at a very reasonable price and a lot of variety and you don’t have to wait for Amazon to deliver it.”
Newman has made it a priority to keep the cost of booth spaces low over the years. Many of the crafters are veterans themselves or closely related to a veteran.
“I lost a brother in Vietnam,” said Jessie, who traveled from Fremont to sell at the event. “A lot of people, they’re nice people. You know you don’t have any trouble around here. It’s great. And it’s in a good area.”
Arlene Bonnet has also attended the craft fair as a vendor for years. These days, the Mountain View resident says it’s the only craft fair she still attends.
“Well, I used to bring in all the stuff myself, but my back is injured. And it’s great because all the servicemen help you. Everybody here is just really great to work with,” said Bonnet.
For Maydean Grundstrom, who sells at the craft fair and also serves as a member of the American Legion Post 419 Auxiliary, it’s another chance to give back and meet new people along the way.
“What I like about it is I get to talk to people like you. They look at my [crafts] and they buy…Sometimes they don’t buy; sometimes they do. But that’s fine. I’m a people person,” said Grundstrom.
The proceeds raised from booth spaces help keep the American Legion running.
“It also helps to keep the lights on. As you know, with COVID and not being able to rent this facility, it’s significantly a decrease in revenue,” said Newman. “So, we’re grateful to these crafters who are willing to come out today and pay for their spaces.”
The Santa Clara American Legion is active in the local community. Many of its members are part of the Honor Guard, a group of people who perform at Santa Clara’s Memorial Day and Veterans Day events. Members of the Honor Guard are the ones performing the gun salute and playing the bugle at the events.
But perhaps the biggest role the nonprofit performs is what happens behind the scenes.
“The American Legion is like a service club. It’s like all the other service clubs, but they are focused on Veterans Assistance and rehabilitation,” said Newman. “It’s hard for them [veterans] to come back into civilian life with a purpose. And so, these veteran places give them purpose, whether it’s American Legion, the largest in the nation, or if it’s VFW, the oldest in the nation.”
Gene Grundstrom, a veteran and Post 419’s Adjutant, says veterans can find all kinds of help at the American Legion.
“A lot of times all the help they need isn’t financial. It’s just camaraderie and assistance with paperwork in the VA,” said Gene Grundstrom. “We do a lot of that. And they really appreciate it…getting through that system.”
Newman says the Veterans Day craft fair will return to Santa Clara the first weekend in November next year.