Sharon Springs Harvest Festival 2015!

SignSelfie Many people who know me personally know that I am often discouraged by the headlines of the day. As a hopeless NPR junkie, I listen to a lot of news and current events radio, and am sometimes a bit down on the human race, to the point of once writing a blog post on my personal blog titled, "A Few Words from a Misanthrope." So, this past weekend, I set out for Sharon Springs a little world weary. CarCollage We all need some light in this world, and fortunately every single time I visit Sharon Springs, NY, I see that light. This past weekend was no different. The Sharon Springs Harvest Festival is the result of the dedication of a number of residents there and a team of volunteers with hearts of gold. Thanks to these people, and the majority of the attendees, this memorable event is one that restores faith in humanity. How? By showing that another American small town that has been hit hard by shifting economic forces can come alive again just because people a) believe and b) are willing to do the hard work. Street Scene By showcasing and promoting American art, craft, agricultural, and culinary excellence. The vendors are not "juried" in the traditional sense, but are required to bring products handcrafted by them in America. In addition to the vendors of Etsy row, there were over one hundred more, most of them more local to the area than I was. VendorCollage By being open. I can not tell you how many attendees were open, curious, admiring, adventurous in their approach to my display tent. Some had grandmothers or mothers who hooked, some were hookers themselves, some had never heard of the craft. Many - MANY - ranging in age from small children to retirees, sat down in my tent and tried their hand at the hook. Some left with all the supplies needed for their new craft, and I suspect the seeds of a new passion. By being Beekman "neighbors." It really doesn't matter if you're in proximity to the Beekman farm or not, you can be a Beekman neighbor. Beekman 1802 doesn't have customers; they have a community. Many of the visitors to my tent were sporting the gold Beekman 1802 temporary tattoos, or tee shirts, or their trademark Muck boots, but what I notice most about Beekman neighbors is their kindness. They are attracted to what Josh and Brent are doing because of the ethic with which these men go about their business, their personal lives, their fundraising efforts for small agriculture, their undying support of artists and artisans via the B. 1802 Rural Artist Collective, their own creativity, and their commitment to kindness. I was assisting a person in my tent with choosing some wool and felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and it was Josh, who had taken time from an incredibly hectic day to give a hug and ask how things were going for me. Later, Jessica, their artisan and retail coordinator, came by. More hugs and smiles. And then Kim, who works in accounting there. These are not your usual CEOs and staff members, and we are grateful and proud beyond measure to work with them on our small part of what they offer in their Mercantile. BeekmanArtisan Having said all that, the event transcends its founding by and affiliation with Beekman 1802. There were several people who asked, "Who are these guys?" and I tried my best to have a short answer. Not easy. Since I was pretty much bound to my tent this year, I tasked by husband Bill with the picture taking. I also made sure he had a ticket for the Beekman farm tour. He took almost 150 photos, which really was quite overwhelming when I opened them up my first day back! I have grouped together according to subject, hopefully in a logical way. Most of the pictures are from the Beekman farm tour, with a few of the festival/vendor grounds. Enjoy the following pictorial tour of the 2015 Sharon Springs Harvest Festival and the Beekman farm.
BoothCollage It took me, with my husband's endless assistance, almost two hours to set up, believe it or not. This was my first outdoor, multi-day event (complete with rain storms overnight), so it was quite a learning experience. Along with my own rugs we displayed those made by Maine hooker Edna Olmstead and also Ellen Marshall of Two Cats and Dog Hooking.
Bill went on the farm tour on Sunday morning, having volunteered at the shuttle loop the morning before.
MansionCollage The iconic Beekman farmstead, built 1802. Just a breathtaking example of Federal period architecture. Please note the porches are on the *back* of the house.
DSC_0598 Don't tell the Parris House barn, but I've got a little barn envy here...
PolkaCollage Polka Spot, everyone's favorite diva, oversees her charges.
GoatFarmerJohn OK, so it's actually Farmer John Hall who does the overseeing, but Polka Spot helps.
GoatsTriplets Pet meeeeeeeeeeeee!
Goat Collage Goats everywhere! The Beekman is a goat farm, after all.
Jackie Jackie Purcell, Josh's mom, was on hand to help lead tours of the gardens and grounds.
GardenCollage The Beekman gardens are a huge source of inspiration to me. I believe Josh and Brent have said that 80% of the food they personally consume comes from the Beekman farm. It's a great measure to aspire to.
Pumpkin Collage Looks like Onder, Josh & Brent's sweetie of a dog, was in the pumpkin patch while visitors signed and left notes on the pumpkins.
BeekeeperCollage The bees at Beekman 1802 are in the able hands of this gentleman. My husband brought home a jar of the cinnamon infused honey from the Beekman farm. Again, a huge source of inspiration for me as I plan to get our first hives at the Parris House next spring.
AppleCollage Apples on the Beekman farm.
DSC_0619 Entrance to the Beekman crypt. Every time I tried to add this pic to a collage it turned on its side and went out of aspect ratio. That hasn't happened with any of the other photos. Maybe the ghost of William Beekman is trying to tell me something.
CryptCollage Interior of the crypt. The climate in Sharon Springs is almost identical to the climate in our part of Maine. During the winter it is impossible to bury the dead here, even in modern times. The ground is too frozen. This is likely an area where the dead could be stored respectfully until burial was possible. While we do not have a crypt, at the Parris House there is a private cemetery behind the house where previous residents of the house and their families are buried. As its present day stewards, we honor those who went before us in this place.
Here is a gallery of more photos Bill took of the grounds. It was a beautiful day, crisp and clear after storms Saturday night. On Monday morning, we left the Meadowlark Inn in East Springfield, where we'd had a great stay, and decided to make one more pass through Sharon Springs before saying good bye for a while. We had an amazing breakfast at the Black Cat Cafe, popped in to the Spring House Spa to see the historical exhibit and check out their offerings, visited with Maureen at her Cobbler & Company gift shop, and then we made our way to the Beekman 1802 Mercantile, where we picked up a Christmas gift for someone on our list and Lizzie was taking good care of business that morning. I went upstairs to see the new furniture and decor section of the Mercantile and was not disappointed. So many great pieces; I wanted more than I can reasonably have! I also took the opportunity to visit with the silhouette pillows we make in the likenesses of Beekman neighbors everywhere. MercantilePic I left Sharon Springs with much more than I arrived with, and I'm not talking about that loaded old Suburban pulling a UHaul. I came back to Maine with a refreshed sense of the goodness and beauty that still exists in humanity, in spite of the headlines. I came back with renewed pride in my work and my cherished craft. I came back ready to work on new ideas that germinated as a result of this experience. Big shows and festivals can be physically and mentally exhausting, and speaking strictly on logistics, this one was no different. I realized that the difference between looking back on it with exhaustion or looking back on it with inspiration was a single factor: the people. Not a bad realization for a self proclaimed misanthrope. Happy harvest and happy hooking. - Beth Want to take a look back at Harvest Festival 2014? Click here.

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