Havre de Grace Art Show draws decent crowds despite weather

Though there were fewer vendors present than in previous years, their unique and varied pieces of artwork still brought a decent-sized crowd to Tydings Memorial Park Saturday morning for the 48th Havre de Grace Art Show.

The clouds and rain stayed away for the better part of the day, though the ground – with many spots covered in straw - was still muddy from Friday's thunderstorm. That didn't deter local art lovers on Saturday, many with their dogs, from coming out, browsing the various artisans' tents and lining up for a crabcake sandwich. However, the show did close early on Sunday because of high winds and severe weather.

There was a little bit of something for everybody at this year's show, which focused on high-quality goods, according to Art Show chairman Cindy Height.

The quality and variety of the art was apparent on the gazebo, where 10 to 15 items donated from various artists were lined up on tables as raffle prizes.

Those in attendance could purchase raffle tickets and choose which prize they wanted to win and how many tickets to put toward it. A wooden frog, various pieces of jewelry, a ceramic plate, glass vase and a sculpture made from an Old Bay tin and wooden beads shaped into a man were just a few items up for grabs.

Height said Monday the Art Show brought in "a pretty good crowd" over the weekend. She added that one exhibitor "said this was one of the best shows she's seen."

While wandering through the park Saturday morning, it appeared many visitors were finding jewelry and accessories the most popular items for sale. Susie Brandel, of Dublin in northern Harford County, noticed the same.

"There's a lot more jewelry than there is artwork," she said. Brandel, who comes to the art show about every other year, came this year with friend Lori Copenhaver, of Havre de Grace, to "see all this beautiful art work down here."

Copenhaver, who lives a block away from Tydings Park, comes to the art show every year because it's so close to her home. But, she said she noticed that there didn't seem to be as many vendors this year as she was used to seeing in past years.

"This park is usually full," she said, noting it may be the heat or rain that deterred more artisans from showing this year.

Robin Roberts, also of Havre de Grace, thought the same, saying the art show seemed to be smaller this year.

Roberts, who came to the park Saturday morning with his two basset hounds, said it was difficult to say why the art show was smaller, citing a lack of promotion or vendors not finding the art show very cost effective for their business could be possible reasons.

Then there was the weather. Saturday's forecast called for possible afternoon thunderstorms, which fortunately never materialized. Sunday was a different story with storms coming through at several points during the morning and mid-afternoon.

Height said despite the gloomy weather, the aptly-named band When Thunder Comes still performed on Sunday. However, many vendors packed up their things and left early.

One artist, John Simpson, of Berkeley Springs, W. Va., was only focused on his work Saturday when a crowd formed around him as he began the carvings of a bowl from a large chunk of wood.

Simpson, whose business is Bowl Weevil Works, sat on a stool and chipped away at the wood, bits and pieces flying all around him, with a bowl adz, a rounded, metal tool made for woodworking. As time went on, more and more people walked up, fascinated with what he was doing.

Simpson wasn't shy and welcomed any questions the crowd had for him.

One woman asked how long it takes to create one bowl. Simpson replied three eight-to-10 hour days. Because the process is so difficult and time consuming, Simpson added, he can only make four or five pieces a month, all one of a kind.

"When I retired, I wanted to do something no one else was doing," Simpson said, explaining that this type of woodworking is a lost art and not many people attempt it as it is so labor intensive.

"It's like a living history," he said.

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