Sunday, July 15, 2007

Festive indeed

There is something so nostalgic about this one particular arts festival that is held annually in our area. From what I understand, it was born out of frustration with another, much larger festival when it started getting too exclusive and denied entry to local artists.

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.



Anonymous said...

I LOVE the bumblebee. That is an heirloom toy that can be passed on from your daughter to her daughter.

Anonymous said...

wooden toys are always my favourite!!!!!

Leslie said...

Such a cute toy! I'm sure your baby will love it.

Also, (this goes with another post you made about naming the baby) I have a kind of funny story.

Before my brother and his wife even knew the sex of their baby, they provided a nickname for it. They didn't want to keep having to refer to the baby as "it" or "he" or "she" before the birth or before choosing a name.

They randomly called the baby Jobie (my strange, strange brother made it up). So along with her real name, Taylor, she will also always be Jobie. It was a cute, fun way to refer to her before we knew what she was going to be and before they could choose a name.

(Another friend did something similar, but she called her baby MoonUnit.)

Lauren said...

Kutztown? I was just there last weekend. I love it. Maybe it wasn't. PA has so many freaking arts festivals that you're hard pressed to go to every single one.

Anyway, if you're up for the drive, Kutztown is pretty spectacular if you've never been there.

And lots of it is indoors in the shade, so you won't just absolutely die.

Trish said...

Seeing that sweet bumblebee's pull string reminded me of something that a lot of first time parents may not think of, in all the chaos of a new baby.
Please remember to attach or tie up any blinds strings. Don't pit a crib or changing table near a window that has blinds. I have read horror stories in the news about infants being strangled by accidentally getting caught and playing with the strings.
I don't mean to sound morbid, but it's just one tiny attention to detail I wanted to make sure you knew about.

Candace said...

it looks adorable.

btw- i watched oprah today, and she featured a lady who has "discovered" the "language" of babies, meaning she has studied babies, particularly newborns, and they make certain sounds for when they're hungry, when they need to be burped, when they're uncomfortable- etc. It sounds a little cheesy, but it looked fantastic because all the mothers who tried it were able to distinguish as to what their babies needed and how their babies were trying to communicate with them.

She has a DVD, I think it might be available on amazon, called Dunstan Baby Language.

I don't know if you're interested or not, but I thought of you when I heard about it ;)

Marina said...

Speaking of bumblebees... Have you seen the movie Best In Show? Very funny movie, if you haven't seen it. Highly recommended.

Regarding the last commenter... I think ever mother develops a sense of her own baby's 'language'.. Why would a dvd be necessary? that's confusing.

Janice said...

That toy is adorable... I really love things you can't buy anywhere else... like crafts and scrapbooks and things that come from the heart. And for the record, I've always also wanted a booth at a craft fair and I think about it every year in September when I go to the local one.

Kristin said...

Wow...ok, so I just spent like, two and half hours reading all of your blog posts that I've missed over the past month or two because I've been completely busy. So I have a few things to say.

1)Oh my god, you're having a girl! I'm so excited for you! I can't wait for it to come out. Make sure you take pictures at the hospital :P

2)I laughed so hard at that deoderant Jerryism. I was laughing so ridiculously that my mother came into my room to ask if I was ok =]

3)If your painting the nursery green, I'd go with the green striped chair.

4)I was just mulling over those green paint swatches and I was thinking that maybe you should keep the room the color that it is now. One of my pregnant relatives did her daughter's nursery that same color with a jungle theme to it and it looks fabulous. To give my honest opinion about the paint swatches that you've chosen, they make me think of Pete Wentz. You know, from Fall Out Boy? Don't ask me why, but that's what I think of everytime I look at that color. But you're a fantastic designer, so I'm sure any color that you choose will look wonderful =]

5)That wooden bumblebee is possibly the cutest baby toy I've ever seen. Nice choice!



Tina P. said...

the toy is absolutely adorable! and for some reason (refereing to an older post) i just KNEW you wouldn't tell us her name until she was born, but you have to remember that you aren't going to be posting for a few days after... so i think you should tell us everything. Think of us all excited waiting at the computar until your first post. WHo knows you may just stop blogging. I mean on Xanga -after you got Toby- you started slowing down. of course now you're back to normal. I guess i just want you to promise you won't stop....

Ray said...

Awww, now you make me REALLY wish that there were art festivals as beautiful as the one you just described! Especially the children's section with plenty of beautiful things to buy. I just love the bumblebee toy that you bought! It's gorgeous. And though it's not an antique yet, I know it will be. I'm a sucker for antique toys.

Well, take care Kelly.

P.S. I know that's going in the NURSERY! ;o)

Sarah said...

I used to read your blog al the time when you were on xanga but lost contact in march when something happened in my family. BUT- I finally had the chance to catch up while i've been on summer vacation before my senior year of high school. So, after 2 nights of staying up till almost 4 trying to catch up, i am proud to say that I have finally gotten here.

so, a very belated congratulations to you and your husband on the baby girl. I'm glad that eveything has gotten better, and everything is okay. Best of luck!


the "green" plainsman said...

You have a artistic sense that shows in your home decorating and what you have created with your hands (and yes, in the structure of your writing, too), so I could definitley see you involved in mastering an art or craft in your future. Your daughter will have a rich life knowing of the beauty of both well crafted words and things around her.

The warmth of the wood "bee-toy" captures the warmth of the wood itself and its slow growth and maturation and of the hands that willed it into another form to be enjoyed by a new life.

Of course, daughter will rebell and reject all, becoming addicted to some red plastic measuring cup from the kitchen. LOL

Great comment about the blind and other strings; also important for those with cats and sometimes dogs, too. They are like mature 2 or 3 year olds, so years ago I "kid-proofed" the house, re: securing pull strings and getting latches on the under-sink cabinets.

Was away so will comment on the last two posts as well. The privacy vs. public right to know issue troubles a friend who is now a top editor in the city. Your and Jerry's cautions are wise regarding identity. Although I have seen neither of you on the cover of People yet, you are experiencing first hand as "larger fish in a somewhat smaller sea" a taste of what those in the public eye are subject to 24/7.

Nice green. I'm told many of us guys can't see the subtle differences in some colors, especially greens, as well as women, so I'm with Jerry on the wall color. But I'm sure your choice will look great!

petra said...

You didn't need pictures. Your words were enough to paint the pictures in my mind. Thanks for taking me (and everyone else) with you. :)

It's wonderful that someone still makes children's toys out of wood -- and that you're willing to buy one for your child. It's kind of sad that so many children's toys these days seem to be battery operated plastic somethings... They have no character so to speak.

Nutkin said...

It's a beautiful toy. There's something about contrast wood that's just fantastic. I love handcrafted items much more than anything you can get at a mall, etc.

When I was growing up, my Mom used to take me to every possible craft fair within a 2 hour drive; in NB and in Maine. I saw so many beautiful things. :) My favourite stalls though were actually always the ones that had polished stones, agates, crystals, etc. Some friends & I used to compete to see who could collected the most & neatest business cards while we were there.