Boonesborough Days artisans to demonstrate historic trades

September 09, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • Ken and Diane Putman produce dipped and molded beeswax candles, shown here with Diane Putman in the background. The Putmans will demonstrate candle making at this weekend's Boonesborough Days.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,

BOONSBORO - Ken and Diane Putman will be minding their own beeswax at this year's Boonesborough Days.

Every steaming pound of it.

This weekend, the Putmans will be moving their handmade beeswax candle-making operation, Millhouse Candles, from their historic Keedysville home to Shafer Memorial Park, as part of Boonesborough Days. They plan to demonstrate the old art of candle making.

The festival is the Boonsboro Historical Society's attempt at showcasing the breadth of the town's history, said Wanda Heuer, organizer and Historical Society president. Boonsboro was founded in 1792 by George and William Boone, the cousins of frontiersman Daniel Boone. Boonsboro is considered to be a gateway to relevant Colonial and Civil War sites.

This year's Boonesborough Days will be Saturday, Sept. 11, and Sunday, Sept. 12, at Shafer Memorial Park near the heart of Boonsboro.

Heuer said the event fetches roughly 10,000 attendees over the span of two days.


Activities are mostly focused around the craft vendors - there will be 150 this year - and artisans, who will give demonstrations of 18th- and 19th-century trades. Other demonstrators will show blacksmithing, chair caning and other folk artists, Heuer said.

During Boonesborough Days, Diane Putman will heat 10 to 15 pounds of locally harvested beeswax over a fire. She'll then show passersby what it takes to make a beeswax candle, a process she said calls for least three days of labor if you're rendering your own wax.

The wax must be clean and free of honey, though the finished candles will preserve the scent once they're lighted.

Also, blocks of wax are dirty. While it's melting, Putman has to skim off what she calls the "scum gum," lingering debris and dirt from the hive. Sometimes the "scum gum" has the bodies of honey bees in it.

"Which is sad," Diane Putman said.

If you get the beeswax too hot, it will catch fire, Diane said.

But all of this, she said, is a labor of love.

Diane Putman, 56, works for National Geographic. Ken Putman, 59, works for Geico. Both must travel to Washington, D.C., and surrounding regions for work. Both she and her husband juggle this money-making hobby with their full-time jobs.

"It's a part-time stress reliever for me," Diane Putman said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Boonesborough Days

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, and Sunday, Sept. 12

WHERE: Shafer Memorial Park, off Potomac St., Boonsboro

COST: Free admission.

MORE: For more information, contact 301-432-5889.

Festival highlights

Saturday, Sept. 11

Plant clinic - Hosted by the Washington County Master Gardeners. Continues through Sunday, Sept. 12.

View sunspots - Weather permitting, attendees can look at sunspots through a special filter and watch educational astronomy videos. Hosted by the Tri-State Astronomers. Continues through Sunday, Sept. 12.

Birds of prey - Nonprofit organization Raptors Up Close will bring raptors to Boonesborough Days.

Trolley Station Museum will be open Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 12.

Sunday, Sept. 12

Community worship service - Led by several local churches; 10 a.m. at the bandstand.

Antique car show - Three auto clubs will display vintage rides.

Rescued animals - Trego Mountain Sanctuary will bring some of the small animals that it has rescued.

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