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About 5,000 endure weather for craft show

August 09, 1999

Kent RobertsBy ERIN HEATH / Staff Writer

photos: MARLA BROSE / staff photographer




Scattered rain showers and a relatively low turnout at the 27th annual Jonathan Hager Frontier Craft Days didn't manage to ruin the mood for most of the craftspeople and their customers on Sunday.

The two-day outdoor event, which was held on the grounds of the Jonathan Hager House and Museum, attracted about 70 artists and craftspeople from five states.

Spectators had the chance to listen to live music by country, folk and bluegrass bands and to watch demonstrations by artists, blacksmiths, a potter and a broom maker.

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Potter Willis Myers Jr., who works with his wife, Denise, in their Hanover, Pa.. business, Clay Craftsman, attracted a crowd of people when he started making pottery on his kick wheel.

Myers placed clay onto the wheel and continuously spun it with his foot while he used his hands to make the clay into a pot. It was the type of wheel that potters used before they had electricity, he said.

"Some people think it looks like magic," Myers said.

RainwaterRecently the Myers duo has earned a number of accolades, including being listed among the 200 best craftspeople in the United States by the magazine Early American Homes. They were also invited to make an ornament this winter for a Christmas tree in the White House, Denise Myers said.

A number of veterans of the craft fair circuit praised the one at Hager House for its laid-back atmosphere and quality merchandise.

Richard Darr, who was selling handmade soaps from The Parsonage of Lovettsville, Va., said he and his partner, Julie Pieper, go to about 40 or 50 craft shows a year. He said he likes coming to Frontier Craft Days because there is an emphasis on true handmade products, not purchased goods.

"I like the traditional crafts," he said. "This looks to be the real deal."

A few of the craftspeople said they were disappointed at this year's attendance. About 5,000 people showed up to the event, half of the 10,000-person average turnout, said curator John Nelson.

Nelson attributed the lower numbers to the weather - hot, muggy, cloudy and, at times, rainy - and to a number of other local events taking place this weekend that he said kept some people from the craft sale.

Despite those things, Jerry and Dixie Koser of Falling Waters, W.Va., left the craft show happy after purchasing a wooden CD case, an acryllic-coated lightbulb and a "Welcome to our Porch" sign.

"We come here every year," Dixie Koser said. "We think it's great for Hagerstown."

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