By Frank Kourt
A picture-perfect autumn day combined with more than 100 artisans and crafters made for a pleasant afternoon at the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen Fall Fair on the picturesque grounds of the Indian Fort Theatre in Berea on Saturday.
Individuals and families leisurely strolled among the booths at this year’s event, which featured everything from handmade cheeses and soaps, to painted gourds and fine art.
Ceramics, jewelry and photography were well represented, and there was something for every taste, be it hand-crafted lawn and patio furniture or folk art, such as brooms, cornhusk dolls and woven items.
One unique offering was that of Bruce Wess, whose photography consisted only of black-and-white prints done the old-fashioned way, using film and conventional darkroom techniques, nothing in color, nothing digital.
“This is my art,” said Wess, of Petersburg, whose prints consisted of mostly scenics, along with a few wildlife shots in formats ranging from 3x5 to 11x14 inches.
Wess, a retired school psychologist, said his commercial ventures include using digital color photography to create promotional items such as magnets, but he said he limits his artistic offerings to “old-fashioned” black and white techniques.
He likes to hike the woods and trails around the state to find subjects for his photographs.
Another unique offering was from Jeffrey and Henrietta Scott, of Columbia, who own and operate Highland Raku Studio.
In addition to their more conventional offerings, the couple take horsehair from favorite horses that customers bring them and incorporate it, along with drawings and silhouettes of the horses, into pieces of pottery, creating lasting memories.
Closer to home, Jerry Hollon, a retired school principal and Richmond resident whose shop is in Berea, enjoys creating handmade wooden rolling pins, cutting, cheese and bread boards for sale at crafts fairs and consignment shops, including the nearby Kentucky Artisan Center.
For Hollon, who said he began selling his work commercially after his retirement about two-and-a-half years ago, the work is primarily still a hobby, but he looks forward to the future.
“It might be more than a hobby one day, said Hollon, who graduated from Berea College with a degree in industrial arts.
While the various booths had many visitors, several of the artists noted that sales are slow, citing a weak economy. But that didn’t seem to bother anyone, as the artists exchanged pleasantries with fascinated shoppers.
In addition to the artworks for sale, there were refreshments, ranging from barbecued treats, burgers and soft drinks to kettle corn and country-made fudge.
St. Joseph Berea hospital provided a first-aid tent, and there was musical entertainment, including guitar and fiddle music, and even an old-fashioned hurdy gurdy to listen to.
The Bittersweet Cloggers of Mt. Vernon provided additional entertainment.
The event continues through today, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Parking is free and admission is $5 per adult, with children under 12 free.