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Boonesborough Days celebrates craftsmanship

September 10, 2011|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI | alnotarianni@aol.com
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

BOONSBORO, Md. — Boonesborough Days has the bucolic flavor of an old-time country fair.

Tents sprawling endlessly across a grassy park. Couples strolling a stone bridge hand in hand over a gentle stream. Toddlers licking ice-cream cones and children's laughter wafting through the air.

But most important to the organizers of Boonesborough Days is the "old-time" essence of the festival's wares.

The Boonsboro Historical Society has been hosting the event for 40 years. The first Boonesborough Days, in 1971, was a small craft fair with an emphasis on historic crafts. Today, that emphasis remains key, festival coordinator Wanda Heuer said.

"Our goal is to preserve the heritage of southern Washington County, of the colonial days and early America," Heuer said. "We have crafts and demonstrations of crafts that people did back then. It makes this more like an old country festival."

Among the roughly 150 vendors blanketing the eight acres of Shafer Memorial Park Saturday were potters, soap makers and beeswax candle makers. A manual baler demonstration and other early farm equipment greeted visitors at the entrance.

Kevin Schmuck of Felton, Pa., peddled handmade brooms. Displayed atop his mechanical broom winder was a ribbon-tied bunch of sorghum, the pretty species of grass he uses to produce his goods.

"It holds up good," Schmuck said. "If you store these (brooms) turned upside down, they'll last you seven, eight years easy."

Schmuck said he learned to make the brooms as a boy, and he tries to "keep the art going."

"All these old arts are kind of slipping away," he said.

Niki Kendrick, 21, of Hagerstown, said she visits Blue Mountain Metalsmiths at the festival annually for handmade jewelry. This year, she perused the works of the Chambersburg, Pa.-area artisan accompanied by her fiance, aunt and cousin.

"I come here every year just for these rings. I like that they are handmade, all original," she said. "They are really good and an excellent price. And they don't turn your skin green."

Kendrick said she typically buys at least four of the rings. This year, she had picked out two sterling silver pieces — one with a pearl and another with a marine opal — and she continued to shop for more.

Beth Firey, 34, of Clear Spring, said she visits Boonesborough Days to get her house spruced up for fall and to get a start on holiday gift giving.

"You find so many different and unique items," Firey said.

This year, she bought a carved, lighted gourd painted with sunflowers. Then, she headed toward a large twig wreath tied with a decorative U.S. flag.

"I think that's mine. It's too good to pass up," she said. "I'm tickled."

Firey's friend, Lisa Staley of Clear Spring, shared her excitement over a necklace carved out of walnuts.

"It's really neat what people think of doing," Staley said.

Lee and Joanna Daugherty, 40 and 41, of Boonsboro, walked to the festival with their son Jacob, 4. The family saw live owls and took in a blacksmith demonstration before heading off to introduce Jacob to apple dumplings.

Lee Daugherty said he grew up in Boonsboro and remembers attending the festival as a boy.

"It seems the same as when I was a kid," he said. "It brings back memories."

Heuer said she expected more than 8,000 people to attend the event Saturday and today.

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If you go ...

What: Boonesborough Days

When: Today, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Shafer Memorial Park, Boonsboro

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