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State of economy concerns Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival organizers

September 26, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HARPERS FERRY, W.VA. -- Jeanne Anderegg has visited the Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival "in every kind of weather" in the 20 years she's been making the trip to Jefferson County, W.Va.

"This is kind of a great day," Anderegg said Friday as clouds threatened to dump rain on the three-day festival held twice each year at Sam Michaels Park.

Sponsored by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the 33rd fall edition of the festival near Harpers Ferry features about 175 artisans and crafters and more than 20 food vendors, according to Chamber Executive Director Heather L. Morgan.

"We're hoping Saturday and Sunday will be better," Morgan said.

Gasoline prices have dropped, but Morgan admitted the state of the economy was a concern for organizers of the festival.

Given the weather, artisan Deborah Smith was pleased to see as many people come to her tent for outdoor lawn and garden ornaments and fountains made of crushed marble and concrete.

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"That's part of the business - you just go with it," said Smith, who operates Sandstone Secrets in Joplin, Mo., with her husband, Gene and family members. "Bless them all for coming out."

Dressed to wick away the rain, Anderegg, of Sterling, Va., left Smith's booth with a small angel holding a bird.

"Maybe it will block a weed from growing up in my garden," Anderegg said while waiting to pay for the ornament.

Anderegg said she also did a little Christmas shopping at the festival, which features prejudged exhibitors who are expected to demonstrate their craft.

Caitlyn and Charles Gunter of Charles Town, W.Va., left the festival with a customized piece of art - a caricature of themselves in a glass of bubbly champagne.

"We met on New Year's," Caityln Gunter said smiling after Charleston, W.Va., artist David Brinkley finished the depiction of the young couple.

The rainy weather didn't prove to be disruptive to fiber artisan Melissa Morgan Nelson of Strasburg, Va., who demonstrated weaving beneath one of the large tents that shelter vendors.

"It's a game, an Olympic sport ... dodge from tent to tent," Nelson said.

If you go



What: Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival

Where: Sam Michaels Park near Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

When: Today and Sunday; gates open at 10 a.m.

More information is available at http://www.jeffersoncounty.com/festival

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