Juried crafts, food, music mark Mountain Heritage

June 13, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

The 31st Annual Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival will fill Sam Michaels' Park near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., this weekend with the handiwork of 190 artists, a wide variety of food, music and thousands of festivalgoers.

There is a waiting list of artists who want to exhibit their wares at the festival - and at its fall edition, Sept. 27-29 this year.

Craftspeople are selected by a panel of three judges who are well-versed in arts and crafts and in hands-on arts education, says Mary Via, executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the festivals.


"We could make it twice as big," Via says, but that wouldn't be fair to the participating artists or to the people who come and expect a variety of quality offerings.

And the people do come. Last year there were about 25,000 attendees, many of them from outside the area.

"It makes us feel really good that people will plan vacations around the festival," Via says.

The food is as unique and unusual as the crafts. The fare includes fried veggies, strawberry shortcake and salads in pitas. There will be hot dogs, hamburgers and lemonade for those who prefer more traditional fair food.

The arts and crafts have indeed earned their place in the festival.

Frances Gross will return - she's been coming for at least 12 years - with her Black Bottom Bags. Her canvas carryalls come in a variety of sizes. Most have pockets - some inside, some outside. They are strong. The heavier canvas can hold 450 pounds at any given square inch, Gross says. Prices range from $10 to $55.

Gross, a violinist and violin teacher, started making the bags about 16 years ago because she "carried so much stuff around," she says.

Her husband had bought a couple of industrial sewing machines, not planning to make bags, but because "he liked to buy things," Gross says.

She credits her husband, who died last September, with the whimsical names given two of the bags: "Bach's Lunch" and "Chopin Bag."

Gross, who resigned from the Maryland Symphony and Millbrook orchestras, sews to music. A favorite composer? "Bach, of course," she says.

Perhaps a bit less practical are the creations of Linda Schreiber of Charles Town, W.Va. She describes her Fantasy Folk character dolls as collectible pieces. She has a fantasy collection - fairies, wizards and witches. There are Christmas, Americana and "Orf," or woods people, collections.

Each face is hand sculpted of man-made, oil-based polymer clay that Schreiber cures in a 275-degree oven. She makes the bodies, clothes and wigs.

The dolls range in size from 6 inches to 24 inches and average $125 to $135.

Schreiber, 59, will bring at least 45 "fantasy folk" to the festival. Her creations have homes in 22 states and four foreign countries - that she knows of.

"Sometimes I don't know what they want to be. Sometimes they just fight me," Schreiber says of creating her characters.

She appreciates having the chance to play with dolls at age 59. "It's great fun."

31st Annual Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival

Friday, June 14 to Sunday, June 16, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sam Michaels' Park

Just off W.Va. 230 on Job Corps Road, between Harpers Ferry and Charles Town, W.Va.

Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for ages 6 to 17. Parking is free

For information, call, 1-800-624-0577 or 1-304-725-0255 or go to on the Web.

Entertainment schedule:

Friday, June 14

12:45 Jay Smar

1:45 Colin Dunbar and Sleepy Creek

2:45 Jay Smar

3:45 Colin Dunbar and Sleepy Creek

Saturday, June 15

11:45 Patent Pending

12:45 Critton Hollow String Band

1:45 The First Generation

2:45 Patent Pending

3:45 Critton Hollow String Band

4:45 The First Generation

Sunday, June 16

11:45 Critton Hollow String Band

12:45 Patent Pending

1:45 The First Generation

2:45 Critton Hollow String Band

3:45 Patent Pending

4:45 The First Generation

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