Thousands enjoy Sunday's 39th annual Arbutus Arts Festival

At 39 years old, the Arbutus Arts Festival was older than many of the thousands of people who swarmed East Drive to peruse its more than 200 vendors underneath wispy clouds on May 20.

Ella Grimes, 79, has sold items at the festival each year of its existence and seen the number of shoppers and vendors increase over nearly four decades.

Billed as the largest one-day festival in Maryland, the event features handmade crafts, including pottery, paintings, figurines, and jewelry, as well as clothing and sports memorabilia.

"It's grown, no doubt about it," Grimes said as she sat at her booth, "Crafty Things," during the festival. "It's good.You get diversity."

Grimes recalled how in its first year, the festival's vendors in the middle of East Drive stretched only from Linden Avenue to Sulphur Spring Road. Sunday, vendors lined each side of East Drive from Sulphur Spring Road into the parking lot past Linden Avenue.

When she started, she and her mother, Mary Kolb, sold blankets, stuffed animals and pillows.

After her mother died in 2000, she worked her booth with her daughter, Lisa Gordon.

"I like the people and the time of the year," said Grimes, who sells her goods at only five arts and crafts festivals each year. "I've been doing it so long, I wouldn't not want to do it."

Grimes said sales at the event vary from year to year, but as long as she makes back the amount she spent on her registration she's happy.

"I don't care. I have a good time," Grimes said.

Linthicum resident Bev Brown couldn't recall how many times she had attended the Arbutus Arts Festival as a child but said she has made it the past 10 years.

"It's a lot more crowded, which is good," Brown said as she held a bag full of painted glasses and an address sign.

Besides the crafts, Brown credited the pit beef for bringing her back.

She smiled as she showed off a bag full of pit beef sandwiches she was saving for home.

"It's just a nice, fun atmosphere," Brown said. "Good people. Good time."

This story has been updated.

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