Advertisement

Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival retires Mountain Man

Festival's booths overflow with art glass, baskets, clothing and accessories, paintings, photographs and folk art, dolls and stuffed animals, dried flowers and herbals, food and more

June 09, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Heather Morgan McIntyre, executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, is shown with The Mountain Man. After more than 40 years, the image of a West Virginia blacksmith hammering on an anvil that graced the sign promoting the Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival has been replaced by a new image showing an impressionistic mountain range.
By Richard F. Belisle, Staff Writer

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — The Mountain Man is gone.

After more than 40 years, the image of a West Virginia blacksmith hammering on an anvil that graced the sign promoting the Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival has been replaced by a new image showing an impressionistic mountain range.

”We wanted to update things a little bit, get a new look,” said Heather Morgan McIntyre, executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce which has been sponsoring the festival for 41 years.

The event attracts about 7,000 patrons to a large vacant field near Harpers Ferry every June and September, McIntyre said.

”We have nearly 200 vendors this year, including 25 new ones,” she said.

McIntyre said it costs the chamber about $100,000 to put on both festivals each year.

“It costs $25,000 just to rent the tents,” she said.

The profits go back into operating costs, and anything left over goes to charity, McIntyre said.

Advertisement

Several longtime vendors said business has been falling off in recent years.

”They’re trying to change things with the new logo, but business has been slowly going downhill,” said Ren Parziale, who with his wife, Pam, owns Sycamore Pottery in Kearneysville, W.Va.

“Business was good Friday, but it’s not a buying crowd today. Just because you get the numbers doesn’t mean they’re going to buy,” Ren Parziale said.

The Parziales have been showing their wares at the festival every year since the first year — a claim he said no other vendor can make.

Stuart Putnam, 40, of Winchester, Va., who with his wife, Laurie, had a dozen of Stuart's elaborate chainsaw carvings set up under their tent. A smaller demonstration tent was set up nearby.

Putnam said he’s been carving the figures for about a dozen years, ever since Laurie wanted a wooden bear for their front porch.

“I couldn’t find a local carver so I carved one of my own,” he said.

Putnam put it on the lawn and sold it for $125, and that launched Timberworks Chainsaw Carving.

Prices for his works range from as little as a few hundred dollars to $4,000 or more, including commission work.

His featured piece Saturday was a large dragon guarding the front of the tent. It was priced at $1,500.

One happy patron was walking down the fairway carrying a plastic bag with her purchases in one hand and a handmade cane chair in the other.

Aida Toledo of Ashburn, Va., said she’s been coming to all the spring and fall festivals.

She was particularly delighted with a handcrafted wooden Irish treasure box she had just bought.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” she said as she held it up.

Toledo said she especially enjoys the September festival where she finds many Christmas presents.

The fall festival will be held at the field on Sept. 28, 29 and 30.

Patrons have so many craft and artworks choices that they could never pause long at any vendor and see them all in one day.

Booths overflow with art glass, baskets, clothing and accessories, paintings, photographs and folk art, dolls and stuffed animals, dried flowers and herbals, food and wine (for offsite use only) furniture, graphic and fine arts, jewelry, leather goods, metalworks, musical instruments and toys.

Bluegrass music will be performed today from 11 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. by Bill Emerson & the Sweet Dixie Band, Patent Pending and the Hillbilly Gypsies.

The festival runs today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|