Arts festival showcases quality artisans
|By Sue Tiffin - Staff Writer | July 31, 2015|
A few years ago, Susan Whitford and her daughter Madison left their cottage in Minden to visit the Haliburton Art and Craft festival.
She said they left the house to prevent aggravating her husband, who was renovating at the time. And so a tradition was born.
The Whitfords were at the Michaud Toys booth this year discussing which handcrafted wooden game – their third in three years – to add to their collection.
“We love his games,” said Susan. “They’re just really cool games, and they make nice centrepieces.”
The Haliburton Art and Craft festival, in its 52nd year, is filled with tradition. Besides booths filled with traditional art and demonstrations of classic skills, the show itself has a reputation for being rooted in community.
“The atmosphere is just so much different from elsewhere,” said jeweller Emma Gerard. “There’s a real sense of community and it’s relaxed.”
Gerard admitted she doesn’t camp, but was looking forward to a swim next to the festival site after the end of a hot day.
“You don’t leave at the end of the day,” she said. “You come and hang out and go swimming and you go to the vendors’ dinner.”
“Often at shows you’re isolated in your tent, so you don’t get to sit and talk and you can’t share interest beyond a few neighbours,” she said. “The vendor dinner allows for conversation. You don’t get that with other shows.”
Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre curator Laurie Jones said the complimentary vendor dinner sponsored by the gallery was catered by Head Lake Grill with craft beer by Haliburton Highlands Brewing.
“It’s a wonderful tradition mid-weekend,” she said.
The dinner, combined with the opportunity to camp at the site, offers the chance for vendors to make memories outside of the show, as well.
“Overnight camping is a tradition that many artists embrace since it lets them get to know each other better and share experiences,” she said. “Many are on the road all summer touring.”
There were 124 vendors chosen from 225 applications at this year’s show, a number that Jones said was down from 2014, which was a record year. Attendance was also down 11 per cent, but staff was pleased with the 6,200-people turnout and had 60 volunteers to help make the show run smoothly.
Marie-Joel Turgeon, an artist based in Quebec, said the Haliburton Art and Craft sale has a reputation for being better than most because of the juried selection and quality of artwork on display. She was also a fan of the accommodations for the night.
“It’s the quality, artisan quality,” she said. “And having the opportunity to camp here, where it’s such a perfect place to live for the weekend.”
SUE TIFFIN is a reporter for The Highlander.