Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Reading back, I see I wrote that the fall festival "always seems to get good weather". Not true this year! It was raining steadily when we woke up Friday morning and didn't stop for good until late Sunday morning. The festival parking is in a field, so when Chief asked about going later in the day or even waiting until Saturday, I insisted on going as soon as possible, before the mud got axle deep in the lot entrances. (Trust me, dislodging a car mired axle-deep in mud is not quick, not easy, and definitely not cheap!)

Unfortunately, the weather definitely affected attendance by both visitors and vendors; the crowds were even lighter than we expected, and there were a number of empty vendors' spaces. A shame; this is definitely one of the better shows. It's large enough to be interesting but small enough to be manageable (not like some that cram hundreds of vendors into the county fairgrounds, for instance), and because it's juried, you can be sure that all the vendors make all their own things. No dishtowels reconstituted into a different shape or anything. And what I enjoy almost as much as seeing all the lovely, well-made things is getting the chance to talk to the makers about materials, techniques, what got them interested in (woodcarving, weaving, ironwork...), and so on. Several of the vendors are also re-enactors and wear their period clothing and are happy to explain the old techniques of barrel-making, why they use this particular breed of sheep for the wool in their sweaters, or where they managed to find the tools to make their instruments. Because the people are invariably emotionally involved in their craft, they always tell a wonderful story about it. That was one advantage to Friday's rain - because the crowds were so light, I think the vendors were happy to have someone interested in their work. The woman doing the Swedish weaving (basketweave throws with multi-colored embroidery) was good enough to show me how she did the patterns on the throws, the woodcarver answered my husband's questions about which woods were easier or harder to work with, the woman with the braided rugs was quite proud of the fact that in the past 5 or 6 years she's completed 160 rugs (her goal was 125!) and the cooper shifted easily from telling us the history of the "barn stars" he makes to the barrels he also makes. Well worth the price of admission!

By contrast, the apple butter festival was a disappointment. I think it suffered by being visited so soon after the other. This festival may not be juried. It was certainly more eclectic, with a lot of vendors the Chief described as "aging hippies"; my term was "New Age". As with the other, the rain hurt them; we saw a lot of empty vendor spaces, though we couldn't tell whether they hadn't shown up, or had merely decided to cut their losses and go home early.

And with all the rain, I didn't even pull out my old camera, let alone my new one. Maybe the next time we're out at the cabin...

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