Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Today's Adventures

Today we went to the Broomcorn Festival in Arcola, Illinois. This was the 49th year, next will be the 50th anniversary, that should be exciting. :D It was a big fair this year, lots of booths.

The main change is that the guy who used to own the broom factory has passed away. His rule was no competition, so other broommakers couldn't come to the fair. This year, with his daughter in charge, other broommakers were there and each of them had a slightly different style. That was exciting! MOAR GOODEEZ for everyone!

The first we saw was the Broom House out of Kentucky. Among his specialties are small brooms with self handles that curve, and brooms with horseshoe handles. These are upcycled thoroughbred horseshoes, the lightweights of aluminum and steel that are difficult to reuse on horses, so it's easier to use them for crafts. Very cool.

Sunflower Broom Shop had assorted colors of cord and broomstraw. The most spectactular broom was, alas, not for sale: pale yellow and orange broomstraw with a handle of naturally orange sassafras including the roots at the top. Talk about a broom that would be perfect for root work! The concept could be used to create another custom broom, if somebody's willing to do all the work of digging up a broomstick-sized sapling.

The one I actually bought from, on the way out, was John Spannagel Brooms. He had small and large brooms, including many made with variegated cord. So I got a small whisk broom with rainbow spiral cord on the handle. It doesn't look like a perfect rainbow in place -- you have to know what self-striping cord looks like to recognize what it is, so it's subtler than something done in thick bands of chromatic color.

We met another traditional crafter at Catfish Antique Rescue. She restores caned and woven furniture. I've met caneworkers before, but they only did the one pattern. She had at least two patterns of cane and I think a couple more different woven ones done with thin flexible strips of wood. She also belongs to the SeatWeavers' Guild, which she described as "chair nerds." :D Check out their photo gallery. This fair has also had a blacksmith for a while, and we got to thinking how nice it would be to pull in some other traditional crafters. Get a chandler and a spinner. I thought glassblowers were too rare, but the caneweaver knows one, so that's not such a long shot after all. These improvements are bumping the festival up my priority list for summer activities. I love street fairs in general, but I especially adore traditional crafters and people selling other practical stuff I can use.

40 Below Joe is similar to Dippin' Dots -- tiny spheres of frozen dessert -- but based on coffee. While I am not a coffee fan myself, I know other folks who are. Notably they advertise vegan, gluten free, and dairy options.

Nan's Uniques is a purveyor of handmade stamped metal jewelry. Most of the offerings were combinations such as a chain, a nametag or other printed piece, and a charm or two. The charms were also available separately. I bought several that had a word stamped on them, for my craft projects. When you buy the charms, you get a split-ring on them, so they'll hang smoothly face-out from a chain. The jeweller had a very clever set of split-ring pliers to open the rings.

Another jewelry vendor was Magnabilities. They do some solid pieces, but their mainstay is mix-and-match magnetic jewelry. You buy a pendant frame and as many magnetic inserts as you want. Some are crystal, some are semiprecious stone, many have words or a picture printed behind a clear cover. The magnetic inserts come in different sizes, and the largest size is customizable, so you can have a photo of someone made into a necklace. :D The website has many more styles of necklace and other jewelry than the small booth could fit, too. The concept is similar to the cage beads from a while back, but now with flat pieces and magnets. They look pretty cool. If you are into capsule wardrobes and/or travel jewelry, definitely check this out. Changing the insert totally changes the look of the piece. Get one necklace frame and as many color inserts as you use accent colors, you're all set -- no need for a whole bunch of jewelry. The vast majority of options are silvertone, but there are a few goldtone ones. Get one of each (if you wear both) and you've just doubled the versatility.

We stopped at RZ's Dips 'N' D'Lites. They have hot mixes, savory mixes, and sweet mixes. The official categories are Veggie, Cheesecake, and Fruit. The latter two have a sugar-free option. We were just going to get a few, and came home with 10. (The prices get lower the more you buy, and they have dozens.) An asset is that they can be made into a variety of dishes such as dip, mousse, cake icing, parfait, fruit salad, or bagel spread. Looking at the label reveals that they consist of relatively crap-free flavor ingredients. \o/ The website has a recipe section with more ideas, too.

M&S Products LLC was there again with their hot socks filled with crushed walnut hulls. I love these because they hold heat well, and unlike grain fillings, do not attract pests. <3 So I bought another one. Now when one cools off, I can let it rest and go heat the other one. I spent last winter stuffing these down the front of my sweater when my office turned into an icebox. It worked quite well.

We stopped at various food booths too. First, I got a corn dog and Doug got pulled pork nachos, with a lemon shakeup to split. Later we got mini donuts, and deep-fried key lime pie amusingly from a booth named Fried What. :D We also stopped at Arndt's Fudgery. They had several new flavors today. I got my usual chocolate with black walnuts, and Doug got the new dark chocolate coconut.

All in all, it has been a great day. We're exhausted, and also broke, because we've been running around for three days straight. This was not the plan. But it has been awesome.
Tags: crafts, event, food, illinois, personal, review
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