by Frances Hayes
Talented vendors and a sunny day drew a crowd of around 200 people to the first ever “Come Grow With Us Spring Art and Garden Festival” held in North Wilkesboro on Saturday.
Organizers were pleased with the turnout and the level of expertise shown by the 20 plus vendors.
“It went very well,” said Laurie Dargin, treasurer for Benton Hall, sponsors of the festival, along with the Town of North Wilkesboro.
“The crowds were steady, especially after the sun came out,” said Mrs. Dargin. “The only complaint was from vendors who thought we started the festival too early.”
The festival was held from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. in the parking lot behind the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.
She praised the quality of the products vendors brought to the festival.
They included garden art, handmade children’s clothes, handblown glass flowers, bird feeders made from recycled materials, spring wreaths, dog treats, handcrafted wooden toys and other wood items, garden and kitchen aprons, crocheted pieces and spring handbags, unusual jewelry pieces made from recycled or copper pieces, plants, handmade breads, eggs, jams and fudge.
“All of the vendors were very talented and hard working. Their work is of an amazing quality,” said Mrs. Dargin.
Most of the vendors were local and are regulars at the Christmas Artisan Market, sponsored by Benton Hall and at the Open Air Market in Wilkesboro.
Joseph and Dodi Kamperman, teenagers from Moravian Falls, were selling their freshly squeezed lemonade as well as 45 varieties of seeds including several types of tomatoes. Their business is appropriately called “J and D Heirloom Seeds.”
Baby bibs and burp cloths, taggy blankets, and other children’s clothing and accessories were being sold by Debbie Shepherd, a retiree from Wilkes Cooperative Extension. This was her first time selling items at a festival and she was enjoying the day.
A colorful array of little girl’s hats, tutus and pockbooks were found at “Simply Incredible Tutu’s.” Owner, Shelly Parker began making the items a year ago. She is a longtime sewer but as her daughter, 4, became excited with her creations she decided to begin selling them.
She also was selling yard art from dishes and glass she had recycled and designed into unique birdbaths.
Handcrafted wooden puzzles, rolling toys, plaques, personalized signs, pencil boxes and more were featured at the Custom Hardware Design booth, manned by the Denny family.
Betty and Jeff Denny and their daughter, Katie, were regulars at Benton Hall’s Artisan Market this past Christmas and were popular on Saturday.
The animal puzzles were especially popular with the younger set. The Dennys have been custom designing wooden items for four years. It started as a hobby for Jeff Denny and the family gave his wooden toys and puzzles as gifts. The response was so favorable, the family began selling their designs at local markets.
Both Mrs. Denny and Mrs. Parker were pleased with the crowds attending the all day festival and plan to return next year.
Everything was handmade by the vendors with the exception of alpaca wool socks sold at “To His Glory Alpaca Booth.” But the wool was from locally raised alpacas, said Mrs. Dargin.
Organizers are planning to sponsor the festival next spring. The money paid by vendors to rent out spaces at the festival will also help Benton Hall continue its programs of music, plays and concerts often featuring local performers, summer camps and more.
Upcoming events include a performance on Saturday, March 28 with Eric Ellis, David Johnson, Wes Tuttle, Buddy Wright and Billy Gee beginning at 7 p.m. at Benton Hall.
On April 13, Benton Hall will sponsor a production by High Point University’s Theatre Department of “The Servant of Two Masters,” an Italian comedy. Other productions and events for all ages are planned in the upcoming months, say Benton Hall organizers.