Crafters’ Day at Autumn Leaf Festival

The Clarion News report
Clarion University

It is a chilly morning on Friday, Oct. 5. The air is so cold, it forces many hands to hide in pockets until items at vendor booths entice them to emerge to admire and buy.

A few booths sell hot coffee to the passersby. CU Chamber singers have a booth where they give out fresh apple cider, coffee and tea.

Crafters’ Day was in full swing within an hour of the event starting at the 65 th Annual Autumn Leaf Festival. Scheduled from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., over 350 vendors lined both sides of Main Street for a half a mile.

By 9 a.m., the street was flooded with people getting Christmas shopping done, finding gifts for friends and family or searching for something special for themselves.

Katlyn Corbett, a senior speech pathology major, said, “Crafters’ Day is always my favorite part of ALF, because I love to see all of the crafty things people come up with and make by hand.”

The many vendors offered a huge variety of items, from food, small decorations, clothes and pieces of furniture. One booth displayed wooden shelves, stands and cupboards sanded and painted in different warm colors.

Crocheted hats and toys were very popular, proven by the many children sporting colorful hats or snuggling crocheted stuffed animals.

At South 7th Avenue, the smell of fresh cut wood fills the air. Sawdust is sprinkled across the street, and wooden sculptures line the chain link fence that separates the carvers from the public. The buzz of chainsaws sound as carvers work to bring pieces of wood to life.

A small carved bear catches Corbett’s eye. “I liked the bear, he was cute. I wish I could afford him,” she said. “The workmanship was very impressive, it looked like they all took so much time and precision to make.”

Lindsey Wohar, a senior speech pathology major, enjoyed spending a few hours traversing main street with her friend and looking for small decorations.

“I liked the ones that sold wooden plaques with words and phrases printed on,” Wohar said of The Rustic Twist, one of the vendors.

The owner, Katie Kiehl, said that she got the idea for hymn plaques when someone gifted her 50 free hymnals.

“I could not stand to see them be burnt or thrown away,” Kiehl said. “There was so much nostalgia in each song.”

Kiehl use to participate in Crafters’ Day as a buyer, but one year, while at the event, a seed was planted in her heart to one day be a vendor.

“I know I would not have a business if it were not for ALF Crafters’ Day!” said Kiehl.

For her, hearing customer stories about her products is the reason she does what she does.

“I met a soon-to-be bride last year and she was getting married for the first time in her 50s,” Kiehl said. “She asked if I could make her a bouquet.”

She did, and the bride came and found her booth at Crafters’ Day this year to thank her and show her wedding photos.

“I started to tear up as she told me how many compliments she received and how she now has a keepsake from her special day!” Kiehl said.

Interactions like this are just one of the many reasons Crafters’ Day is so dear to the people of Clarion and surrounding areas. It creates opportunities to meet new people, help build small businesses and enjoy time with friends and family.