Crowds at Colorfest bag unique finds
Frederick News Post
(10/9) Marian Windsor, 3, of New Market, blows bubbles with a new bubble gun as she and her family make their way through the crowd of thousands Saturday at the 48th annual Catoctin Colorfest in Thurmont.
Thurmont this weekend is where people can discover the broom they didn't know they needed.
Or the mailbox cover. Or gourd art.
As it does every autumn, the normally quiet town on Saturday transformed into a Mecca for arts and crafts, with thousands of people choking the streets and toting shopping bags stuffed with, well, it's difficult to say, especially for some of the more unique items.
That's part of what makes the Catoctin Colorfest special: Many vendors at the annual event offer treasures that shoppers won't find on a retail shelf.
As he made his way through the displays in the Thurmont Community Park, Richard Bowling ended his search for the perfect walking stick to give his father.
"He kept saying, 'Son, get me a cane. I don't want a store-bought cane. I want something good, solid and heavy,'" said Bowling of Forestville.
But Bowling hadn't seen anything that would work. That is until he came across vendor No. 88, also known as Jack Decker, a Hagerstown artisan stationed in a lawn chair behind a fence of walking sticks he had created.
Decker said he's been making the sticks for about eight years. He grew up helping his father work in the woods, so Decker is familiar with the forest; he knows where to find sticks that have grown in spiral-shapes after tangling with vines. Those are the ones he often collects.
"I like a little character," he said.
Besides carving handholds and brushing on some polyurethane, Decker doesn't like to tamper too much with the sticks.
Bowling picked out a stout staff that -- as Decker informed his customer as he fished for cash -- was made of hedge apple.
"This is perfect," Bowling said.
Other shoppers stumbled upon a selection of corn brooms made by a craftsman from Felton, Pa. Although he practices a fading craft, Kevin Schmuck said that at Colorfest he finds people who still appreciate a sturdy broom.
"A broom gets in the nooks and crannies, and it's quicker than getting the hose out," he said.
His display won over customer Mary-Louise Thompson of New Market.
"I didn't anticipate that I'd come away with a broom. But I'm glad I did," she said, adding that she needed something heavy-duty for sweeping the porch.
The 48th annual Catoctin Colorfest, which lasts through today, includes more than 350 juried vendors at the Community Park and Guardian Hose Co. Activities Grounds, but many other artisans set up shop throughout Thurmont.
One of them, Sheila O'Connor, who arranged her stock of lotions and perfumes near Water Street, said Colorfest is a great way for local artisans to pick up customers. She's been selling merchandise at the show for several years, she said.
"I have a lot of repeat customers. I see them here once a year," she said.
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