Westfield Arts and Crafts festival kicks off strong

WESTFIELD Friday was pure sunshine and blue skies, idyllic weather for the Arts and Crafts Festival in the heart of Westfield village. If you head to Moore Park, you will find the tents of vendors erected along sidewalks and spacious lawns, and musicians singing old Irish folk songs inside the gazebo. The event will continue today until 5 p.m.

The festival’s organizers went to scrupulous lengths to bring the focus of the show on high quality, hand-crafted items. And it shows, with the incredible mix of talent and creations available.

Greg McDoulg, a sales representative for Nectar of the Vine, sold daiquiri mixers, pouches that mix alcoholic beverages from all-natural sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, and in a wide variety of flavors as well – including pomegranate, their best-seller so far. “I’ll probably sell a couple hundred bags today, if I’m lucky,” he said. This is his first year in the Westfield festival, though he has been selling daiquiri mixers for more than six years.

Marcia Merrins and Paula Coats, owners of Kniti Griti Works and PC Pottery respectively, share a booth with clay and fiber art for sale, including footed bowls, vases, pendants, buttons, trays, and flower arrangers. They take special pride in their Raku pieces, Raku being a special process in which the piece is heated to over 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and placed into a container of leaves – the thick, black smoke produced by the burning leaves blackens the clay body and produces spectacular colors and metallic effects.

This is Merrins’ and Coats’ second show in Westfield. They began to create pottery together five years ago after taking pottery lessons with a mutual friend. “We just got addicted to it,” said Merrins. “The things you can do with clay are endless, but it’s an expensive hobby, so we sell our pieces just so we can keep making more.”

Kerri Sue Torres and Mary Jo Reichert represent Kesuto Jewelry Designs, a “green” company that sells pendants, earrings, and necklaces created with natural and foraged items whenever possible. Each piece is named, numbered, and is the only one of its kind. They began to sell jewelry in March, and this is their first big show. “We’ve hear the show isn’t as big as it used to be,” said Torres, “but it’s still the biggest in the area. Attendance is down everywhere.”

Mike Ricketts has grilled up barbecue chicken at the festival for more than 20 years. He is a member of the Westfield Presbyterian Church, of which 50 to 60 of its members volunteer their services for the barbecue. It’s $10.50 for a meal, which includes the chicken along with corn, salad, watermelon, and a drink.

“A lot of planning goes into an event like this,” said Ricketts. On Wednesday at 7 a.m. they prepare the barbecue pits. At 8 a.m. on Friday they start cooking. “We have people come up to us and say they’ve been going to the festival for the chicken for over 30 years,” he added.

There is also fried dough, popcorn, coffee, French fries, and homemade pies for sale.

Lori Meyer, a visitor from Fredonia, was extremely excited. “I had my name personalized on a mailbox cover,” she said. She also purchased a grapevine angel wreath bearing a wooden plaque with the words “Praise Loudely” inscribed, as well as pair of ear-cuffs, earrings that wrap elegantly around the earlobe. “I love just them!”

Fees collected by the show help support programs and serviced offered by the YWCA Westfield.

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