So they formed their own and vowed to hold it the same weekend every year out of spite.
Dueling festivals, I love it.
Although the primary festival is nothing short of breathtaking -- literally from all the walking you have to do just to cover all the booths, demonstrations and exhibits; and figuratively in regard to the amazing art -- almost everything has to be appreciated for the brief moments we spend browsing. The only thing in our price range is the overpriced food.
So instead, with only a few simultaneous hours between us this weekend when we weren't both working, Jerry and I opted to attend the "other festival." I joke that you're supposed to say it in hushed tones. Much like you'd say "other woman."
The weather was perfect, if anything, a little hot. It's held on a large open field in one of the historic Victorian towns that I'm so fond of in this area. To me, it's the perfect size. No maps or diagrams required, just a gigantic oval to make your way around with the food vendors placed ideally in the middle.
I think one of the reasons I like it so much is because the size suits my indecisive nature. It is completely acceptable for me to walk away and mull a potential purchase after seeing something I like. It's not difficult to relocate a particular tent or go the short distance to find it.
As we started in a counter-clockwise direction, I couldn't help but relax and enjoy the day. There's something so wonderful about looking at handcrafted items that someone painstakingly took the time to develop, honing their skills over the years.
Ever since I was little, I wanted to have a booth at an arts festival. I can easily imagine sitting on a stool at the rear of the tent, practically fading into the background as I watched those who were drawn in to look at my creations. I can't help but think that would be personally rewarding somehow. I have a million ideas of what I would make. Maybe I'll join a festival circuit when I retire and Jerry can be my numbers guy. I'd definitely need a numbers guy -- all my former math teachers would vouch for it.
I didn't take any pictures because I was too busy just taking it all in, but I could've spent hours capturing things like the hands of the old man who sells homemade brooms with natural knotted tree limb handles. We walked past as he was putting one together and I was struck by the beauty of his hands -- rough yet dexterous. They seemed so accustomed to making brooms that they worked at a frantic pace, almost independent of his aging body.
Then there was the kettle corn apparatus -- a gigantic cast-iron cauldron that popped thousands of kernels at a time. I watched as a pair of women worked seamlessly together to make enormous batch after enormous batch. One would combine the ingredients and stir until the pot filled with fluffy pieces, then together they'd put all their weight into tilting the steaming metal at a 45 degree angle where it would empty into another huge container to cool. The other would take off her worn oven mitts and scoop it into various sized bags, some as long as 5 feet, and sell it to those waiting patiently for that first delicious bite.
Another thing that struck me were the festival-goers: parents pulling toddlers in little red wagons, teenagers flirting over sugar-coated funnel cakes, the retired couple sharing a huge bucket of potato wedges for lunch, or even the twentysomething who decided dogs weren't the only leashable pets to spend the day with outdoors -- he brought his bunny -- which, noting the circle of little kids squatting around it, was a big hit.
Jerry and I took our time and just sort of meandered. I scoured every tent with even a hint of pottery hoping to find a replica of the spoon rest I broke. Sure enough, I did. I raised both of my arms over my head in triumph and gushed to the artist how appreciative I was that he decided to come back this year.
For the first time ever, Jer and I were drawn to the tents with children's items. We browsed through handpainted mirrors with ballerina slippers, whimsical picture frames and decorative electrical plates. But one tent stood out more than the rest. A woodcarver was selling toys made out of different colors of wood that he combined and whittled and smoothed to perfection.
It was a tough decision, but we opted on a pull toy shaped like a bumblebee. The wings spin as the wheels turn. I absolutely adore it.
To me, that toy encapsulates the festival. There's something romantic about it. It was made with love and attention and is designed to last for generations.
You can't find that at any mall.