Eric Zavinski – Editor in Chief
As a student, I have had the pleasure of enjoying the Autumn Leaf Festival (ALF) for four years. As a reporter, I have also had the great opportunity to cover the festival for the same amount of time. In both walks of life, one thing remains the same for me.
The Farmers and Crafters Day has always been my favorite part of ALF.
It is easy for me to cite the event’s creativity, diversity and comfort as the reasons it is able to bring me back for more every single year.
First off, there is the obvious talent on display. Hundreds of vendors from near and far get to call Main Street their home for several hours every year, so they can show off their products.
As evidenced in this year’s Crafters Day coverage, these appealing wares can range from homemade canoes and yard flags to pottery and hot sauces, not to mention the various soaps, sweets, dolls, banners and framed photography that make each ALF special.
This leads easily into my next point: Farmers and Crafters Day always seems to be diverse. Only large, continuously-running markets in more urban areas seem to offer the type of display one sees at Crafters Day.
Where else can you frequent a kettle corn booth and then cross the street to visit a small business selling original artwork or sports merchandise? Where else can you learn about bomb disposal in the U.S. Army and then immediately get a fresh bite to eat from a local farm?
I suppose the answer to these questions is hardly anywhere.
There is also an innate, unspoken value that is seeped deep within the Famers and Crafters Day event. It is also why I so thoroughly enjoy visiting vendors and seeing old friends all under the overcast glaze that seems to be tradition in the last few years.
That time-freezing gloom that I personally love so much aligns perfectly with the nostalgic feeling Crafters Day can provide for me: comfort. This part of the event may be the hardest to describe, but with the different flavors of ALF, I think it makes sense.
Basically, Farmers and Crafters Day is able to make me, and probably many others, feel this way because it is heavily reliant on interacting with other people. I do not think I have ever met someone new at this event who was not nice and open to conversation.
Naturally, people want to talk in order to advertise their product and open the minds of some people who may also become inclined to open their wallets. There is also an unspoken, genuine relationship within each consumer-vendor interaction.
For instance, after I talked with one gentleman about his farm he gave me a free apple to “keep the doctor away” as the saying goes. As someone who has fallen ill recently, I was touched by that simple gesture more than he can probably know.
Thankfully, something like that is one example of many that shows how authentically kind people can be. Nothing brings that out more in ALF than the Farmers and Crafters Day.
It makes a massive crowd feel like a comforting thing, filled to the brim with creative, diverse and heartwarming people.