By Francesca Hagadus
The Robert E. Bell School was bustling with holiday shoppers, volunteers, Girl Scouts and vendors on Saturday November 7. In its 31st year, the Annual Chappaqua Craft and Gift Fair is the largest fundraiser for the Bell School PTA. “The Craft and Gift Fair funds the overall PTA expenses for Bell School, explained Madeline Finesmith, Bell PTA Chair. The money raised goes toward programs such as the Bell Theater Company, Cultural Enrichment assemblies, after-school programs, grade-level socials, teacher appreciation, and events like the Bell Bonfire, which bring students together as a community.
Approximately one half of the vendors at the Fair were returning and the other half were new. So I decided to check in with and highlight a couple newcomers and a long time vendor!
Taryn Ocko and her sister Ilissa Ocko Seroka each had her own vendor booth for the first time. Both young women are Horace Greeley High School and Bell graduates. They are each marketing very different wares! Taryn is a photographer with her own business, Taryn Ocko Photography. She sat behind a table of beautiful photographs of nature, wildlife, portraits, candids, architecture and details. Her sister Ilyssa and her husband Greg, have a business called Interfaith Living and market “products blending your Jewish-Christian lifestyle.”
Returning for her 15th year at the Chappaqua Annual Craft and Gift Fair was Judy Hechler. Judy creates natural original floral and fruit designs. She handpicks her materials, trying not to use anything perishable. She creates designs “with love and care, never making the same thing twice.”
Francesca Hagadus recently retired after 32 years of teaching French and Spanish at the Robert E. Bell School and at Horace Greeley High School. In her early years of teaching, she led numerous tours to France and Spain with her 8th grade students. She continues to travel as much as possible. She currently hosts international students studying English at EF Language School in Tarrytown, and teaches English online to EF students. She has numerous free-lance jobs involving both French and Spanish. She is an avid skier with the Swiss Ski Club of New York, and a frequent visitor to MOMA. She lives in Pleasantville with her two sons, Timothy and Thomas.