Colorful sights abound this Labor Day weekend at the Pioneer Days Festival in Sam Smith Park, and there is certainly no shortage of variety among its many arts and crafts vendors.
As a myriad of smells from various culinary offerings such as barbecue and boiled peanuts fill the air, and carnival rides flash brightly in the background, the vendors take their place each day at the edge of the attractions, setting up shop to market their own unique and undeniably quirky creations.
“I have bath and body products [and] homemade soaps that I cook in the crock pot,” said Sherry McCurdy, a Dawsonville resident and the owner of Soaps and Stitches.
McCurdy and her husband, Jim, travel to roughly six festivals or shows per year. Jim McCurdy sells his own products as the owner of Navy Hammocks, which offers specially designed hammocks he claims are superior to ones manufactured by the big brands.
He said that he does “ ... a lot of local shows. We just like to get out and meet new people, introduce our product and show them why it’s so much better than our competitors.”
Ron Biberdorf of Dallas was on site to display his selection of clocks, lamps, soap dishes and other items made from recycled bottles. As the owner of Re-Bottled, he takes glass bottles, melts them for 14 hours in a kiln, and then converts them into other items by hand. He was originally inspired by his wife, who makes her own creations from glass.
“My wife is a glass artist. She makes sculptures out of glass. ... We had been experimenting with melting bottles and I just came up with the idea,” said Biberdorf.
The toughest task of the process? Biberdorf keeps all the original labels on the bottles, even after exposing them to extremely high temperatures and melting them flat.
“There’s a lot of handwork. The very difficult part is, those are all the original labels,” he explained. “I take the label off, melt the bottle and then put the same label back on the bottle it came from.”
And speaking of handwork, few are likely to spend more time on such labor than Dan Hartley, a Carrollton resident who owns Pa’s Chainsaw Creations. Performing live demonstrations in front of festival attendees, Hartley carves, cuts and crafts chunks of wood into various sculptures combining the imagery of the plant and animal kingdoms.
“I’ve always been in woodworking. My dad was a cabinet maker. I’m an arborist, so [it was] just something I always wanted to do. I’ve seen people do it, so I started trying a couple years ago and I’m steadily improving and getting better and I enjoy doing it,” Hartley said.
Laden with small bear-like statues, Hartley’s booth features a number of different creations, each taking its own specific amount of time to create.
“It just all depends. The bears, I’ve done so many of them now, they’re a little bit faster. But some of the custom stuff, like these, that’s about 35 hours on that. It’s got 11 different carvings in it,” said Hartley, gesturing to a small tower engraved with images of multiple woodland creatures.
“Most of the small stuff, ... I can carve them in under an hour and then I got all the sanding and finish work. So, it just all depends on what it is.”
The Pioneer Days Festival will continue through Labor Day on Monday. In addition to the arts and crafts, it features carnival rides, food and games. It will be open to the public today from noon to 11 p.m., and Monday from noon to 10 p.m. Admission is $5. Children under age 12 get in free. Daily wristbands are available at a price of $20 for unlimited carnival rides. For more information, visit http://www.pioneerdaysga.com/.