Sampling Hot Sorghum…(the Importance of Festivals in eastern Kentucky)

It is festival season in eastern Kentucky. Around this time of year you can visit the Apple Festival, the Honey Festival, the Chicken Festival, the Swift Silver Mine Festival, Wool Festival and even the Woolly Worm Festival. It seems that most tiny eastern Kentucky towns have some reason to celebrate this time of year.

In Morgan County, where I currently live, we host the Sorghum Festival. If you’re not familiar with sorghum, it’s a sticky sweet substance similar to molasses. Folks from this region have lots of different ways to use it. My husband, who grew up in West Liberty, uses it as his primary sweetener. When I’m spooning tablespoons of honey into my oatmeal, he’s adding a dollop of sorghum. It is also delicious in cookies, barbecue sauce, chili and even craft beer! In fact, Vogue Magazine, just named Sorghum the new quinoa in the Aug. 2016 issue.

My favorite part of our local sorghum festival is, you guessed it, the sorghum.

Danny Townsend, a local sorghum grower, demonstrates all weekend the making of sorghum the old fashioned way. And that way involves a mule-driven mill that grinds the sweet cane into a syrup. That syrup is then transferred to vats and boiled down into a bubbling, thick, rich substance that pairs best with a homemade cathead biscuit.

All weekend long, while I demonstrate painting, stuffing or just chat with visitors to the sorghum festival, I see folks walk by with cut cane stalk, dipping it into a styrofoam cup with a sampling of fresh-made sorghum. That image makes me smile! Oftentimes, those folks might be dressed in bib overalls with a red bandana sticking out the pocket. When I visited my first Sorghum Festival with my husband, I couldn’t help but notice all the people in bibs! Apparently, this is part of the Sorghum tradition as well–old fashioned dress, little girls in braids, even the Sorghum queen (crowned during the Friday night football game), wears an old time prairie dress. This is a charming tradition, one that I hope carries on well into the future.

Under the tent, you’ll find entrepreneurs of all sorts, professional artists and home crafters alike. Small festivals in eastern Kentucky are a necessity. In areas where the economy is struggling, festival season allows folks to earn extra income for the year. In West Liberty, it is especially critical since the tornado of 2012 destroyed most of our retail shopping establishments. This event allows Morgan Countians and others to shop in county, to shop with our neighbors and support their efforts. Festivals also allow burgeoning artists the opportunity to put their work in front of the people, to really see if entrepreneurship is something they would like to seriously undertake. It is the first step for many artists before investing in and branching out to other, more well-known art fairs.

It was my first step in the public art sales arena. And I am thankful to have been allowed to take that first step in what has become an art career.

So, this weekend, I’ll have my dolls and homemade ornaments set up at my hometown festival. I won’t be wearing bibs, but I will be supporting my community with my art and with my dollars as I shop and eat local this weekend! And I’ll be smiling at all you little ones in your bibs, sampling hot sorghum and partaking in old traditions and maybe making some new ones.

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(To find me under the Big Top on Main Street, look for city Hall and follow the sidewalk down to Helton’s Tax Service. I’ll be in that area, next to good friend and one of my favorite artists, Pam Oldfield Meade.)

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Woodland Art Fair 2016 Y’all!

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Woodland Art Fair Info, Driving Directions, Parking Info and Shuttle Service Info

It’s almost time and I’ve been working my fingers to the nubs getting ready for the 41st Woodland Art Fair in Lexington, Ky. 41st! Anything that’s stuck around for 41 years has to be good, right? Well Woodland Art Fair is definitely good. Located within the grounds of the Woodland Park in Lexington, Woodland Art Fair includes around 200 participants from Kentucky and beyond. You can bet that some of the best working artists from the central Kentucky region are represented at this fair. In addition, the music, the setting, the food choices….it all makes for a great show! I’m always excited to get the notification that I’ve been accepted. This is easily one of my favorite art shows in Kentucky.

If you’ve visited me in past years, I’ll be in my usual spot, booth 219 near the Gazebo which serves as a bandstand during this event. (So follow the music!) I’m also by the pool area, so if you see that, you’ll know that I’m nearby! I like to give my location and possibly stay in my location, if I can, because Woodland Art Fair is huge! As always, look for my very colorful pennant banner on the front of my tent. It’s a nice way to separate myself in a sea of white tents filled with wonderful works of art.

Hope to see you there!

Shuttle Service Info if you’ll be attending Woodland Art Fair

Because parking later in the day can be an issue, three shuttles (including one wheelchair- accessible) will be circulating every 10 minutes. Park in the LEXTRAN Transit Center parking garage (enter from E. High Street near the Lexington Ave. and MLK Blvd. intersections), the Phoenix Parking Lot and the Lexington Herald Leader front parking lot to catch a shuttle.

 

Thank You!

I would love to extend a heartfelt Thank You to everyone who stopped by my booth at the Berea Craft Festival this past weekend in Berea, Kentucky. This is one of my favorite weekends of the year! I speak a lot about the charm of the historic Indian Fort Theater and the creative, inspiring vibe that can be felt during the festival but until you experience it for yourself it’s hard to really explain. The truth is…this experience is carefully curated by a bunch of hard-working people and has been for 35 years. Firstly, the the organizers of the Berea Craft Festival carefully choose interesting, dynamic artists and crafters for this show. There’s no doubt about the quality of the things you’ll find at the fair! Secondly, each artist puts so much effort into creating a fantastic shopping experience for the buyers. This woodland marketplace is outstanding. Couple that with strolling musicians, delicious food, kids crafts and demonstrations that will spark your imagination and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get the itch to create yourself!

I really enjoyed getting to meet so many different people, having the opportunity to talk about my work and share a little about my process and how I taught myself to make these little people. An extra special Thank You to everyone who purchased a little something to take home with you or to tuck under the tree for a loved one this Christmas. It makes my heart swell to know that a little piece of me will live on in your home and through your family traditions! Thanks so much!

(My space on Friday morning right before the gates opened! Exciting!)
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(I wish I had more pictures to share of this amazing event, but sometimes the downside of being a participant is that I don’t have to time to walk around snapping photos of all the things I really love. Make plans to attend next year to experience this for yourself. The Berea Craft Festival is always the second weekend in July!)

Berea Craft Festival 2016

Coming Soon!

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Click the image above for more information including driving directions. Join over 100 crafters from all over the US for the opportunity to purchase wonderfully made arts and crafts directly from the artist. This show is considered one of the best art & craft shows in the nation. In addition to the eclectic and varied works of art, enjoy great food, live music from multiple roaming acts and demonstrations in the picturesque forest of Indian Fort Theater. Even on hot days, it’s a great place to be! Dogs on leashes are welcomed.

See ya there!