Dozens of people surrounded the Pennsylvania Broom Closet tent Friday during the 30th annual Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair at Talleyrand Park.
Sisters Debbie Lutz and Barb Barrett used vintage machines to hand make brooms from broom corn and a variety of different handles.
Lutz said the handle first goes into a machine called a kicker winder that ties wire around the broom corn tightly to the handle. The handles Lutz and Barrett use are made from wood, sticks, railroad ties, golf clubs and more.
“If it’s laying around and we can use it, then that’s what we’ll do,” Lutz said.
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The next step it to use a press that tightens the broom corn.
Annually, Lutz said they use more than a ton of broom corn a year to make the fully functional handmade brooms. The sisters grow the broom corn in Lock Haven and Troy, where they reside.
Lutz also added that the small brooms are often used as home décor.
Lutz said 10 years ago, her husband pushed her into making the brooms, then she got her sister involved.
“We grew it, and my husband would say ‘Now learn to do something with it,’ so we did,” Lutz said.
Barrett said she and her sister travel around the country for shows and other fairs and have developed their own style of broom making that is all manual work.
“It’s not hard; it’s just time consuming,” Barrett said. “It’s just a hobby that we like doing, spend some time together and show our work.”
The sisters held demonstrations at their tent Friday, on the first day of the Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair.
Fair Director Debbie Hamilton said the fair attracts a couple of thousand people during its two days at Talleyrand Park, and draws dozens of vendors from Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
“When you get a nice day like today, people want to come out, support the artisans and enjoy what Bellefonte has to offer,” Hamilton said. “That’s why we do it. To promote the hard work of people who makes these arts and crafts, and bring a community together.”
The fair features food, arts and craft vendors, live entertainment on two stages and children’s activities.
“We like to think it’s one of the best events Bellefonte has to offer, and the borough and this community has been a great support,” Hamilton said. “We owe a lot of it’s success to the Bellefonte community, the artisans and those who come out and enjoy the day.”