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Friday, 12 August 2022

USA 2022 - Sasha festival part 5

On the Saturday morning of the Sasha Festival in Syracuse the Sasha Sales room opened at 9am, though the stall holders had been busy long before then setting up their wares. I didn't take any photos of the sales room, I was too busy looking at what was for sale and making choices within a tight budget! I did buy a few items.

The theme for the lunch was A Christmas Story, the 1983 film, which wasn't familiar to us though is a Christmas tradition in the USA. Our table hostess was Chris K, who gave us lovely little denim bags she had made, inside the bag was a Christmas apron she made, and she also gave us jingle bells on red ribbon. I had changed Melanie into the Reindeer outfit I had bought from Kurt at the sales, so she ended up wearing the green apron and the bell over her reindeer nose, while holding the bag and other tiny gifts which people gave out (thank you to all those generous people who gave little gifts over the weekend).

Saturday lunchtime

Melanie in the reindeer outfit with Laura still wearing her 'Once in Royal David's city' choral outfit at lunch on Saturday

The festival souvenir for Saturday lunchtime was an amazing red snowsuit with knitted scarf and mittens (threaded through the sleeves) all beautifully made with black boots in a gift box. Ralphie, the main character in A Christmas Story film wears a red snow suit in the film apparently. 


Our Saturday lunchtime Sasha festival souvenir gift boxes containing the snow suits


Our Saturday lunchtime Sasha festival souvenirs of red snowsuits, hand knitted scarves and mittens, plus snow boots

The Helper raffle draw took place again at lunchtime. After lunch, there was an open meeting about future festivals which everyone was invited to attend. Although we already knew the 2023 festival was being arranged in Portland, Oregon (details had not yet been announced) there was no organiser or venue yet for the 2024 festival. There was some discussion about what is involved in organising a festival, with Heidi explaining she was updating Ann Chandler's festival organiser advice document. Then Diane D announced that Petrana was offering to run the 2024 festival in Milton Keynes, England! Most of the Sasha Festivals have been held in the USA, with only 2000 (Huddersfield, England) and 2012 (Stratford-upon-Avon, England) held elsewhere - it seems a pattern of every 12 years from 2000 onwards the Festival goes to England. As a local, I offered to help Petrana once she calls for helpers.

I cannot quite believe I didn't take photos of all 6 Raffle dolls! I had meant to but somehow never got a good moment to do so, which means the only two I've photographed properly are the wonderful Christmas Eve in the child's bedroom ensemble by Julie Ruleman and friends, and the Susanna Lewis ensemble which I had helped display. 

Raffle doll

A night before Christmas themed Sasha girl's bedroom raffle doll, co-ordinated by Julie Ruleman

Raffle doll

Many of those wonderful outfits (all the smocked ones) were made by Julie Ruleman

Raffle doll

This Sasha doll is very lucky as she has many lovely toys, a beautiful bed and some superb outfits to wear

The other four Raffle doll ensembles were:

  • Baby's First Christmas organised by Fran (to which I had contributed my abacus toy)
  • Sasha Alphabet with an item for each letter of the alphabet
  • Sasha and souvenirs from the 2021 Sasha festival donated by the Bolland family
  • A year of Sasha/Seasons of Sasha with an outfit for each month of the year

We had free time on Saturday afternoon after the Future festivals meeting, so we took the opportunity to use the hotel laundry, then prepared for the festival banquet that evening.

The theme for the banquet was 'A night before Christmas'. Once again the food was served buffet style in the lobby to the large conference room, there was a choice and what we had was delicious.

Our table hostess was Fran, who gave each of us a pretty Christmas dress she had made plus a miniature elf on the shelf in a gift bag.

Table hostess gifts from Fran

Florence and Miranda (who didn't attend the festival) wear the Christmas dresses made by Fran, with the miniature elf on the shelf toys and the gift bags.

On the Saturday evening only there was an exhibition of dolls featuring outfits made or designed by Susanna Lewis, but I didn't manage to photograph that either!

At the hotel one of the staff members had commented earlier in the week when Diane D first arrived with Curly and Helen that she also had a Sasha doll, from her childhood, but had never met anyone else who had a Sasha and was amazed that there was an annual festival featuring these dolls. On the evening of the banquet Stacy brought her doll, called Sasha, to the banquet to show everyone, by that time several Sasha people had given her some new clothes and shoes for her Sasha, who was wearing a lovely yellow ensemble. Diane introduced her and said that as Sasha had not met any other Sasha dolls in many years, tonight she would visit each table so we could take photos of her meeting our Sasha and Gregor dolls and share them in the Sasha Morgenthaler Facebook group.

Diane explains

Diane introduces Stacy and her Sasha

Diane, Stacy, Sasha

Diane explains about Sasha meeting the Sasha community


Sasha came to meet Timothy and Laura at our table


"Welcome Sasha, it is really good to meet you, we are Timothy and Laura all the way from England"


"Hello Timothy and Laura, I am pleased to meet you, welcome to Syracuse" said Sasha

Usually at the end of the banquet meal there is a presentation or talk of some kind, this year the format was slightly different because Sharon and Carol explained that the programme was our recollections of Susanna Lewis so everyone was invited to contribute. The microphone was handed around to those who had something they wanted to share about Susanna, resulting in several interesting anecdotes about Susanna, her artistry as a fibre artist and her well researched knowledge of Sasha dolls, plus some early recollections of Sasha festivals especially from Dorisanne Osborn and Anne Votaw who were both sitting at the dinner table with us.


Jeanne, Peggy, Mary and Dorisanne at our table.


Marti and Anne at our table, with Fran's Sasha wearing the rainbow dress she got in the Children's Fund Auction on Friday night.

Programme announcement

Sharon at the podium invited recollections of Susanna Lewis.


Dorisanne Osborn recollecting Susanna Lewis and Sasha festivals.


Anne Votaw talking of her memories of working with Susanna on the three Sasha books.

Our final festival souvenir gifts were given out and proved to be an astonishing achievement of fine sewing and smocking - imagine making 100 almost identical hand smocked white dresses and underwear. The maker had asked to remain anonymous but many of us guessed.

Souvenir dress

2022 Sasha Festival souvenir hand smocked Christmas dress and underwear by anonymous and shoes by Marge Truax

Souvenir outfit

The white underwear, shoes, socks and ribbon

There were four different smocking designs, we received two of the same design, so swapped the next morning with one of our breakfast companions, Florence G, so we had one dress with the candy canes and one with the Advent/Christmas wreaths.

The final Helper Raffle items were drawn then came the big moment when the 6 Raffle dolls draw took place.
Susanna Raffle doll

The Susanna Lewis tribute doll changed into her Christmas dress, a copy of a dress Susanna Lewis wore for Christmas one year, when she was given two little rag dolls (miniature versions of which are just in front of the tribute doll.

Susanna Raffle doll

Wearing her Susanna Lewis Christmas dress, just before the raffle draw

As a gift for helping at the Children's Fund Auction, each young helper was given named raffle ticket to put in their favourite raffle doll paper bag for the draw. The younger teenagers and children helped with the Raffle doll draws. First it was the Sasha doll in her bedroom.

Draw 1

Drawing the first ticket, opening it and reading her own name in amazed excitement! It was brilliant that this raffle doll was won by the child who drew her own named ticket from the previous evening's Children Fund Auction thank you gift! Her joy was a delight to behold.

Draw 2

Next was the draw for the Susanna Lewis tribute doll and her wardrobe. This was won by Carol who was one of the festival organisers.

Draw 4

The children clustered around Fran's Baby's First Christmas raffle for the fourth draw. This was won by Tricia, who generously shared her wonderful prize with the two young brothers who were attending the festival.

One of the teenagers won a raffle doll (I think it was the Alphabet one - draw 3), but I didn't take a note of who won the other two raffle dolls.

Susanna Lewis Raffle doll winner

JoAnn, Carol (the lucky winner) hold the Susanna Lewis doll, me holding Reuben wearing the Shakespeare Dream Coat for Sasha, and Marti just before we took down the display of the Susanna Lewis tribute raffle doll.

Some of us had brought our SCW Charity course dolls to the festival, so after the Raffle we arranged a group photograph.

SCW Charity course dolls

Four SCW Charity course dolls and their proud makers at the 2022 Sasha Doll Festival - me, Monica, JoAnn and Beth

On Sunday morning we all had breakfast together in the conference room before Sharon and Carol gave out thank you gifts to those who had helped at the festival. For helping at the Children's Fund Auction my daughter received a set of four beautiful notelet cards with the illustrations by the late Mary C Krupp, whose tribute was printed in the festival journal. One of the cards was the image on the front cover of the journal and had been used on the postcard announcing the details of the festival.


The Notelet cards illustrated by Mary C Krupp and the Festival journal article about her.


Sharon and Carol doing final festival announcements.


After breakfast with our cheerful breakfast companions as we awaited the announcement of the next Sasha Doll Festival

Karen and Kurt came up to the podium to announce the theme, date and venue of the 2023 Sasha Doll Festival as the postcard with all the details was handed around to everyone. The theme is 'Sasha Rocks' as Sasha enthusiasts celebrate 40 years of the festival. The festival will take place from 27th - 30th July 2023 at the Holiday Inn on the Columbia River, Portland, Oregon. Karen explained that she had been challenged at (I think) the Arizona festival to put on a Sasha festival on the western side of the USA, as so many of the festivals have been in the Eastern or Midwestern states, so this festival was several years in the planning, delayed a bit by the pandemic.

Sasha Rocks

The official Sasha Rock group announcing that 'Sasha Rocks' in Portland, Oregon, July 2023

We wish we could attend, but it overlaps with a musical event in which my daughter will be playing violin plus the distance and cost is another factor for us unfortunately. Good luck Karen and Kurt with all the planning, we'll come up with something to contribute which fits the theme even though we won't be able to attend.


Florence, Melanie and Reuben wish they could attend 'Sasha Rocks' next year

And so it was time to say goodbye to all our Sasha friends as the 2022 Sasha Doll Festival in Syracuse came to an end, which is always sad. Several people congregated in the main foyer during the morning and lunchtime as they awaited transport to the airport, some of us were not leaving until the next day.

Thank you Sharon and Carol, and all their helpers for a wonderful 'Christmas in July' Sasha Festival 2022.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog, was so hard to say good bye... until next time!