History lives at Hager Craft Days

August 04, 2005|by KRISTIN WILSON

Hagerstown's oldest and largest craft show - Jonathan Hager Frontier Craft Days - returns in traditional fashion to City Park with more than 50 artists and craftspeople sharing and selling their wares.

French and Indian War living history demonstrators and multiple Appalachian-style musicians will provide the backdrop for the 33rd annual event held Saturday, Aug. 6, and Sunday, Aug. 7.

"If you have good weather, people come rollin' in there on Saturday and Sunday," says woodcarver Aubrey Wright of Greencastle, Pa., who has displayed his work at the event for many years.


"We like the atmosphere of the show," says Donna Plunkert of Littlestown, Pa. Plunkert and her husband, Bruce Plunkert, continue to show their sand-cast, antique replica butter molds at Frontier Craft Days saying: "There's enough interest to keep us going back."

Craft Days is held on the grounds of the 266-year-old Jonathan Hager House and Museum. Craft exhibitors demonstrate their skills in needlework, woodcarving, jeweling, pottery and basketry. Vendors also sell their products.

Tours of the Hager House and its 18th-century furniture will be available Saturday and Sunday. A French and Indian War living history group will set up an encampment behind the Hager House and members will be available to answer questions.

Four Appalachian-style musical acts from Virginia and West Virginia will perform in the afternoon hours.

Madeline MacNeil, a hammer and lap dulcimer player from Virginia, will play at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday. MacNeil has performed in Scotland, England and at the National Cathedral.

Whippoorwill, based in West Virginia, will take the stage at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday. Mary Daily and Penny Hall make up the group, with vocals, lap and hammered dulcimer, guitar and penny whistle.

Little Maggie, a Celtic- and Appalachian-style folk duo, will perform at noon and 2 p.m. Sunday. Group members are Mary Daily and Cheryl Mansley-Ford of West Virginia.

Sunday's entertainment will be capped off with Virginia-based Furnace Mountain at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Group members David VanDeventer on fiddle, Morgan Morrison on mandolin and Aimee Curl on guitar combine bluegrass, classical and jazz styles.

Craft Days brings to life not only music, but also some forgotten art forms.

John and Sue Grove of Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., will display their Shaker boxes and carved walking sticks, as they've done for 13 years.

John Grove learned how to make boxes in the Shaker tradition through a class in Martinsburg, W.Va. The simple boxes are made by steaming wood to make it bend around a curved form. The bent wood is then dried for a minimum of three days. The Groves also work with 19th-century tools.

The Plunkerts have spent 30 years collecting and preserving antique butter molds from the 1700s to the early 1900s. American butter molds, carved of wood, were used to shape and "stamp" homemade butter with intricate designs.

The Plunkerts have found family and farm "butter stamps" in all shapes and sizes. Some designs are highly ornate, while others are fairly simple.

"A lot of the patterns had meanings," Bruce Plunkert says. For example, "a pineapple is hospitality. A cow is richness of life."

"This was the poor man's way to have something fancy on his table," he says. The markings also were used to identify one's products at market, Donna Plunkert adds.

The Plunkerts' business, Old Buttermould Pattern Products, sells plaster replicas of original molds. The couple's work can be found this weekend at Jonathan Hager Frontier Craft Days.

If you go ...

WHAT: 33rd annual Jonathan Hager Frontier Craft Days

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, and Sunday, Aug. 7

WHERE: Hagerstown's City Park

COST: Free. $2 for tour of the Hager House; 6 and younger, free.

MORE: For more information call 301-739-8393 or send e-mail to

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