Talleyrand Park has once again been filled with food, arts and music.
The Bellefonte Arts and Crafts Fair kicked off its 31st year Friday with 100 vendors, food stands galore and enough summer fun for the whole family.
“We have about 30 more exhibitors than we had last year,” fair Director Debbie Hamilton said. “This is wonderful. We have a great attendance for a Friday, so (Saturday) should be even busier.”
Hamilton said she and her committee of about 10 work year-round to bring the fair to life. Exhibitors have their applications submitted by April.
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“We have great exhibits,” she said. “You can come, sit and enjoy all day.”
Hamilton pointed out the activities for children, which include arts and crafts, a magic show, balloon arts and science discovery.
The fair also holds a silent auction with goods donated by the vendors and a contest to win a basket full of goods donated by Bellefonte businesses.
Vendors’ goods run the range of jewelry, clothes, metalworking and woodworking.
One woodworker is Jeff Donoughe, 42, of Mill Hall, who carves with chain saws. He said he’s been making chain saw carvings for about eight years.
“I checked out the Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous in Ridgway one year and got inspired to carve,” he said.
Donoughe’s pieces run from small, life-size bear cubs to a full-sized native American chief. Bears run around $75, he said, and the chief goes for $400.
Although he enjoys carving faces, he said he gets a lot of inspiration from nature. “The bears are a big seller,” he said.
“I try to pick a log that’s about the size of something I want to make,” he said, “then just take away what I don’t want.” After carving, the pieces are sanded, then painted, varnished or burned and wire-brushed.
Art takes center stage at the event, but some take the opportunity to advocate for a cause.
Elisa Osman and Virginia McClure, of St. John Lutheran Church in Bellefonte, run a stand advocating for fair trade practices and the products offered by Equal Exchange.
“What (fair trade) does is provide a stable, livable income for the farmers that grow the cocoa beans or the coffee beans or the teas we enjoy,” Osman said.
A majority of farmers affected by fair trade practices live in Africa and Central and South America.
In the case of many popular brands, the process of getting the product from the farmer to the consumer involves several middle men, Osman said. Processors, exporters and brokers all take their share, leaving very little for the farmer.
In fair trade, she said, a farmer cooperative deals directly with an organization like Equal Exchange to bring the product directly to the store. The farmer is afforded a larger share.
Because of fair trade practices, these farmers are able to make a livable wage and provide more nutritious meals, health care and education for their families, Osman said.
“It’s basically saying, ‘You work, you deserve a fair wage for your work,’ ” she said.
The growth of the fair has been noticed by those who have been coming for years, like Willis and Debbie Houser, of Bellefonte, who said they’ve been attending since the beginning.
“It’s a lot nicer since they moved it to the park area,” she said. The fair was held along the streets of Bellfonte in previous years.
Though the Housers had only just arrived at the fair for the day, they had already taken care of the most important part of their visit — nachos and fries.
“It’s delicious,” she said.