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Celebrating heritage Charles Town festival draws artisans

September 23, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - A drum provided the beat for Saturday's Heritage Day festival in Charles Town.

Children who stopped at the Cherokee Indian booth were invited to pound, pound away.

Each boom resonated on a sunny day as a light crowd milled about a closed-off block in the city's downtown.

"The drum is our heartbeat," said Mario Shelby of Inwood, W.Va., who also goes by the name Eyes of Hawk. "To the Indian people, the drum represents life itself."

Shelby and Robert Andrews, who is known as Iron Kettle, of Gaithersburg, Md., greeted people at a table for the Southern Band of the Cherokees. The table included a flute bag, hair ties, Cherokee ribbon shirts and other items made by Andrews' mother, Brenda Andrews, who is known as Chief White Deer.

Shelby said the nationwide nonprofit group, which centers on Indian heritage, has about 40 members in and around the Eastern Panhandle.

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Heritage also was on the mind of those at the "Save Happy Retreat" table.

"Charles Washington Founded Our Home," their sign read. "Now Let's Save His."

Happy Retreat is the home of Washington, who founded Charles Town.

Ann Paonessa, the group's treasurer, said the table attracted some new residents not familiar with Happy Retreat or where it was.

Michael Pensabene isn't new to West Virginia, but he's only been out selling his wood carvings for about three weeks.

He had a table of them on Saturday - flamingos, dolphins, ducks.

He made smaller versions for people who didn't want to pay higher prices.

Pensabene said his regular job is finishing basements, but business has been slow.

Paul Goland's interest is shiitake mushrooms.

He was at the festival to talk about growing them and to sell logs that, with the proper care, could produce them.

Goland, from Franklin, W.Va., said the logs need a shady yard, because sun is a turnoff.

The process of introducing the shiitake fungus to the log, through drilled holes, is known as inoculating the spawn, he said.

The first harvest can be expected after the first summer, Goland said.

Others at Heritage Day sold crystal potpourri, origami earrings and crocheted purses.

Rock Hill Creamery had ice cream and Grace Episcopal Church of Middleway, W.Va., sold grilled trout sandwiches.

Among the other features on the Heritage Day schedule were a working replica of the Liberty Bell, a used-book sale, an appraisal fair and a man re-enacting a Charles Town native who was the first black line officer in the U.S. Army.

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