By Lynn Davis
Special to The Pilot
Thousands flocked to the Port over the weekend to celebrate art and be entertained during the ninth annual Brookings-Harbor Festival of the Arts.
More than 80 vendors set up shop on the boardwalk, with a few coming from as far away as Montana, Idaho, and Arizona. Patrons, also, came from both near and far, to see what creative and unique items this year's event had brought to town.
Robert and Jan Vander, visiting Brookings and the Festival of the Arts from Ithaca, N.Y., raved about the experience. They said the show was comparable, in terms of variety and quality to other, much larger shows they have been to on the East Coast.
"We saw a lot of things we really liked, but we couldn't bring it all home," Robert said, who was especially impressed with a number of wood tables and carvings exhibited by Michael Kilpatrick, of Crescent City, at his Functional Sculpture booth. He added, "The art at this show is very high quality."
His wife, Jan, added that she didn't leave empty handed. "I did buy some glass jewelry that is just beautiful."
The couple, who spent Saturday night camping at Harris Beach, commented on the smoke and ash, but said their first visit to Brookings has been "just spectacular."
Volunteer committee chair Jo Mulchowski said the show was a hit for both buyers and sellers.
"We have had many compliments on the quality of the show," she said. Even under "less than ideal" conditions this year, "Vendors are pleased with the turnout, and customers are impressed with the quality of the artwork."
"I'm really glad we didn't cancel the show," Mochulski said.
Fourth year show veteran, Dan Stanfield from Talent said he is happy the festival received the green light, as well. According to the artist, his booth, Forest Creations, does better every time he comes here, and this year was no exception.
Some of Stanfield's most popular items include intricate carvings and whimsical art he makes out of wood and the bones of cow, elk and deer.
Describing one of his more humorous pieces, a set of mosquito "houses" hanging from a cow bone, he said, "The mosquitoes ate the cow, and the bone is all there is left." His "Tin Man, made from cans and metal cut-outs, receives a lot of smiles from customers, too.
Miranda DosSantos, of Medford, mirrors Stanfield's sentiments about the Brooking's-Harbor Festival of the Arts.
"I love this show! High quality art and talented people are all around here," she said.
DosSantos designs and sells specialty mission-style and other birdhouses, in addition to ornately designed and finished wood crosses that she, and her husband Alan, make out of recycled barn wood.
"My inspiration comes from Dr. Suess books and watching Looney Tunes," she said of her twisty-curvy creations.
Reginald Mintey, a stoneware potter from Eureka, Calif., educated customers who came to look at his kiln-fired crafts. The artist explained the fine line between raising the firing temperature just enough beyond the usual limits of 2,380 degrees to get the rutile (the iron component in his titanium glaze) to run, resulting in its unique look, and raising it just a few degrees over that line, melting the whole piece.
He said he has spent many years learning how to manipulate the temperature and also the thickness of the glaze application to get the effects he desires, and still have something left to take out of the oven.
The artist said the successful target temperature range for his product "is only a matter of 60 to 100 degrees" past the general limit of 2380.
Although Mintey said he believes there weren't quite as many people at this year's festival because of the air quality, he was glad he and his wife made the trip.
"We have been coming here for around eight or nine years. It's grown tremendously and developed quite nicely," Mintey said. "The quality of the crafts are wonderful. It compares with that of the San Francisco festivals, and our sales in Brookings are equivalent to Portland shows."
Patrons of the event, echo that of the vendors. Bill Cunningham of Brookings said, "It's larger than I thought it would be. The art is varied, there is several interesting things."
Judith Drew, of Brookings' Webfoot Weavers, provided wool-spinning demonstrations for patrons of the festival.
Drew said she hopes the demonstrations will bring about interest in the historical significance of her craft. The spinner organized the group of weavers about six years ago and, someday, would like to have her own "living museum" dedicated to the product.
Participants at the children's crafting center, supervised by Dori Blodgett, children's librarian at Chetco Community Public Library, created such things as balloon art, magic wands, self portraits, pet rocks and pirate hats.
Cecilia Meier from Brookings said her twin, 10 year-olds, Stanley and Steven, enjoy the festival's crafting center. Especially popular with the boys were the pirate hats and balloon animals.
"It's real fun for the kids. We come here every year," she said.
Eleven-year-old Marissa Callaway also said she was having a good time at Blodgett's crafting booth. "This is fun."
"My favorite thing would have been making a star-wand, but I missed it," she said
Harbor Assistant Fire Bart Kast was seen wearing his hand-made pirate hat, as he took a breather from his duties at the fire department food booth, to go and check out the "fun center."
This is the second year the fire department has had a hamburger and hot dog stand at the festival, he said.
"We did this to get out in the community," Kast said. Raising money to purchase equipment for the department was important, but the main reason for the booth was to help the team become more acquainted with the people they serve.
Two national organizations involved with the Biscuit Fire and its management were on duty at the festival, providing information to Curry County residents.
Allison Jackson from the National Park Service, and Melissa Maestas United States Forest Service representative, used maps to illustrate the perimeter of the fire and also explained how weather conditions affect fire behavior and management strategies.
Residents and tourists kept the two informants busy fielding questions ranging from "where is the fire now?" to "How do I prepare for an evacuation?"
Maestas said how fire management organizations use weather forecasts to plan defense strategies, but said it's an inexact science.
"Essentially, Mother Nature is going to do what she wants to do," Maestas said. "It's a day by day type of thing."
Maestas said those who would like updates on the fire can call (541) 247-2486.
With another successful Festival of the Arts weekend behind them, Mochulski and other festival committee members, Violet Burton, Ann Kelly, JoAnn Cady and Vi Christof said they look forward to doing it all again next year.