Eric Zavinski – Editor in Chief
CLARION, Pa.- Farmers and Crafters Day at Autumn Leaf Festival is always a sight to behold: thousands of folks from near and far flock to Main Street to peruse, in this year’s case, more than 350 vendors featuring a wide selection of creative goods.
From 2nd Avenue to 8th Avenue this past Friday, Farmers and Crafters Day in downtown Clarion was no exception.
Bryner’s Classics was one such business open to the public. Owner Bruce Bryner made his showcase a family affair; daughter Melina Bryner helped her mom and dad entice the public to try their signature hot sauces.
What with the bags of kettle corn, fresh produce and the aroma of fried foods floating through the crowd, there was certainly a lot for the taste buds at Farmers and Crafters Day. As usual, the emphasis along Main Street seemed to be on the crafts, many of which loosened up the wallets of Clarion residents and visitors alike.
“We’ve been in business for 10 years,” said Linda Coulson of Slate Accents. “It’s fun to be here.”
Coulson and her son Brad repurpose roofing slate and use it to create clocks, picture frames, light switch covers and other furnishings for the home.
Jane Waxenfelter of JPW Pottery also returned to Crafters Day; she said that the turnout had been so good the year prior that she felt she had to return for a second.
“I like to throw them on the wheel and then alter them,” said Waxenfelter, who likes to use the clay she has to make flowering, cyan designs for platters and bowls.
Paul O’Neil is yet another self-taught potter who took to Main Street to show off his product. Shamrock Creations’ featured mugs and even some fishy designs – as in designs actually inspired by sea life itself.
Another popular outlet was “The Flag Lady,” a business from Altoona, Pa. operated by Kathy Stiver, “The Flag Lady” herself, and her husband.
Kathy would create yard flags with all manner of designs on them, from dozens of dog breeds to scenes of animals in their natural forest habitats. Her husband would then help by creating poles or hangers for the flags to be presented on, and with their combined efforts, they braved the early morning drizzle and presented their product to the ALF public.
The U.S. Army was the title sponsor of this year’s festival, meaning army members such as U.S. Army Recruiter Kristen Gutierrez put a lot of work into making sure events like Crafters Day ran smoothly.
They also represented themselves too.
Sergeant First Class Charles Smith showed passersby what the TALON robot looked like. The TALON is a bomb disposal robot that helps soldiers negate risk on some missions and amplify their abilities when trying to diffuse certain situations.
“Sometimes you go up there, and it is something dangerous. So somebody doesn’t come back,” said Smith. “So now if we suspect a danger or if we know there’s a danger, we send the robot in.”
There was certainly a lot to learn at Crafters Day even if one did not buy any of the wares. Raffles for canoes were offered by Taylor Diversion Programs, Inc., but representative Debbie Cummings also mentioned that she and her colleagues instruct archery and canoe craftsmanship in their Tionesta and Sheffield, Pa. locations.
“The name of our program is named after my grandfather Jesse Taylor,” said Cummings. “He liked to do the old-fashioned things, and we want to teach our young kids how to do the old traditions because they’re going to be gone if somebody doesn’t do it.”
From a woman’s extensive collection of nesting dolls or the produce of Brungard Farm Market, a farm family-owned and operated since 1832, this year’s Farmers and Crafters Day seemed to have something for everyone.