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Brooms a hit at Caledonia Arts and Crafts Fair

July 13, 2003|by BONNIE HELLUM BRECHBILL

Several hundred people enjoyed a beautiful summer Saturday at Caledonia State Park on U.S. 30 between Chambersburg and Gettysburg, Pa. Some swam in the pool while others waded in the stream, cooked out, played croquet or just sat and enjoyed the breeze.

On a huge lawn near all this activity, 200 skilled craftspeople and

artists sold their creations at the 22nd Annual Arts and Crafts Festival.

Displayed under peaked white tents were pottery, personalized buckets, lawn furniture, aprons, bird houses and other crafts.

At the Merryman's Handcrafted Brooms tent, Scott and Carol Merryman of Biglerville, Pa., made several styles of brooms using only 19th-century machinery and tools.

When Scott Merryman was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome about two years ago and could not continue with his trucking job, his doctor told him to find a craft to practice. Merryman decided to carry on the tradition of his grandfather and great-grandfather who made brooms in Hampstead, Md.

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Merryman said he found an 1830s-era broom winder behind a shed in

Hagerstown. He rebuilt it, pegging it together as it was originally. Carol Merryman uses an 1878 broom press to hold the brooms upright as she sews them.

The Merrymans grow some of the broom corn they use. Scott Merryman makes the wooden handles.

"Everything is done the way they would have back then," he said.

Scott Merryman added that before they started making brooms, his wife could not convince him to attend craft shows with her.

"Now I love it," he said. "We enjoy meeting people."

Sacha, a trio of musicians from Ecuador who have been playing together for five years, performed instrumental Inca music. Wearing white peasant-style shirts, blue jeans and hats and sporting long black ponytails, the three young men had fair-goers tapping their feet and applauding.

Favian Chalampuente of Otabalo, Ecuador, played a long wooden instrument called a quenacho and also a sikus, a group of wooden pipes of varying lengths. Julian de la Torre played a charango, a very small guitar, and Miguel Ramirez played a guitar.

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