By RICHARD F. BELISLE
8:07 PM EDT, September 28, 2012
HARPERS FERRY, W.Va.
Wyatt Clark’s eyes were as wide as nickels when the locomotive and all that was following it passed by his feet.
“Wow! Train. Train,” the 2-year-old said as his mother held him so he could stand on the table of the big model train display at the 37th Annual Fall Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Show on Job Corps Road near Harpers Ferry.
“He loves trains,” Rebecca Clark of Keedysville said.
The “G” gauge model train display was set up by the Shenandoah & Potomac Valley Garden Railroad Club.
The juried arts and crafts festival, billed as “one of the largest festivals of its kind on the East Coast,” is held by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce each June and September.
The event draws about 7,000 patrons each spring and fall, and Friday’s attendance was higher than usual for a first day, organizers said. It opens again at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday with more than 200 vendors and exhibitors, along with food and live bluegrass music.
Crafters and artisans from the East Coast and beyond occupied rented space in tents lined up in the festival field. Their wares include art glass, baskets, clothing and accessories, decorative painting and folk art, dolls and stuffed animals, dried flowers and herbs, food, furniture, graphic and fine arts, jewelry, leather goods, iron works, photography, pottery, quilts and woodworking.
The booth of Marilyn Handel of Bar Harbor, Maine, and Bowling Green, Va., was one of the busiest Friday afternoon as women were drawn to her tent by the thousands of glittering, hand-fashioned gold and silver rings, bracelets, earrings and chains displayed openly on tables.
Handel said she, a sister-in-law and a couple of friends, make the jewelry. “We’ve been doing it for 30 years,” she said. “We make it wherever we are, in Maine, in Virginia or even here.”
Prices range from $18 to $4,200. An average sale at this festival is about $100, she said.
Donna and Bruce Plunkert of Littlestown, Pa., set up their Old Buttermould Pattern Products under another tent.
“We do about 28 shows a year,” Donna said. “We’ve been coming to this show for 10 years. Business here and at other shows is not as good as it used to be. I guess people are holding on to their money with this economy.”
They make small tiles with air-dried molding plaster and decorate them with dyed sand. “It’s very labor intensive,” Donna said.
Jacque and Barry Negrotto also do about 28 shows a year selling antique button jewelry. Old buttons, cufflinks, even typewriter keys are the raw materials of their creations.
The Negrottoes, from New Orleans, spend most of the year on the road. “We are together a lot, but something must be working because we’ll be married 42 years this year,” Jacque said.
Her mother and grandmother were button collectors. “That developed into this,” she said.
Linda Draper and Adrienne Stop of Mount Airy, Md., had already done a little shopping when they stopped to rest at a picnic table to enjoy sausage sandwiches dripping with onions and peppers.
“We’re just starting to shop,” Draper said. “I usually buy a lawn ornament or two, some candles and dried flowers. After that, it’s hit or miss. Whatever strikes my fancy.”
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