Heavy traffic on Catonsville street a good thing for craft festival vendors

Frederick Road between Melvin and Bloomsbury avenues was again jammed with traffic this weekend.

But unlike the slow-moving lines of vehicles during the week, the pedestrian traffic was all good for the 38th annual Catonsville Arts and Crafts Festival on Sept. 11.

And at opposite ends of the festivals, vendors lining both sides of the road were happy to see it.

Kim Meyers worked at the tent for the Catonsville High School Booster Club, one of the closest to Melvin Avenue.

The Catonsville resident said her group had nearly sold out of some of its Catonsville High School apparel only 90 minutes into Sunday's event, which began at 10 a.m.

"People that live in Catonsville are coming up Frederick Road and starting here and the music is up here," Meyers said, as a band played only about 10 yards away. "It feels like people are drawn to this end."

Having live music playing so close to their booth initially concerned Jamye Washington and Klara Jenkins, who staffed a stand directly across the street from the booster club.

Washington and Jenkins displayed a variety of colorful crafts from Morning Star Baptist Church at 154 Winters Lane and thought being close to live music would make it difficult to convert passers-by into customers.

"We thought at first it wasn't going to be (good) because of the music, but it's really not that bad," Washington said as the band covered "Under the Boardwalk" by the Drifters. "It's not that loud. It gets you the traffic."

Down at the festival's other end, near the often busy intersection of Frederick Road with Bloomsbury and Ingleside avenues, things were somewhat quieter, but still busy.

Linda Buskey, a three-year veteran of the Catonsville Arts and Crafts Festival, said she has had a tent in the same spot near Bloomsbury Avenue each year.

"(I like it) because it's the beginning of the show," said the Glen Burnie resident and owner of Sew Many Crafts Etc. "They got to come that way. They got to go home that way."

Those in the middle, near Egges Lane and the Catonsville Fire Department, also thought they had a good spot.

"I like this area right here, right in the middle," said Robin Regner as she sat in her booth Jewelry by Robin, which offered handmade jewelry.

"Parking is easy right down (Mellor Avenue)," she said. "People come from both sides. I get good traffic here."

Regner, a 10-year veteran of the festival, added that her repeat customers know where to look for her.

In addition to a comfort level with their location, vendors also shared a common concern for the weather.

When the event began at 10 a.m., dark skies provided comfortable temperatures but brought the threat of rain.

"I don't mind if it's overcast, as long as we don't get any rain," said Deborah Butts, who shared a booth with fellow Frederick County resident Gloria Condon, that featured their paintings. "The weather you can't control, so we're at the mercy of the elements."

The sun broke through just after 11 a.m. and assured the vendors that most of the shoppers would stay until at least kickoff time for the Baltimore Ravens' season-opener against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers at 1 p.m.

Sunday's event, again organized by the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, sold out each vendor spot along the two-block stretch that featured 120 crafters, 31 local businesses, 22 civic groups and numerous food vendors, said Teal Cary, the chamber's executive director.

"We haven't been (sold out) for the last couple years," Cary said. "This has been especially good this year."

The variety of options, including gourmet dog treats and handmade wooden toys, delighted the crowd.

Carolyn Leibig stood on Egges Lane plotting her shopping strategy with her friends Jane Taylor and Dot Rew who attend the event almost every year, they said.

"I think it's a lot better than other years," said Leibig, a Glen Burnie resident. "It's more food. It's a lot of people and, thank God, the sun came out."

Just before noon, Taylor had several bags of purchases, including a fall door arrangement she bought from a booth near Melvin Avenue, she said.

"We're just getting started," the Odenton resident said with a laugh.

Rew, a Catonsville resident, hadn't bought anything yet but had her eye on some jewelry and many of the food vendors up and down the strip.

"It seems that this year there's a lot food places open," Rew said. "Some of these restaurants I haven't frequented, but I've heard good things about."

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