Keith Strange Staff Reporter
October 13, 2013
From nurses uniforms to wooden utensils to handmade jewelry, there was something for everyone at this year’s Autumn Leaves Festival, and the more than 200 vendors lining Main Street and nearby side streets said this year’s shoulder-to-shoulder crowd is supporting them.
And with back-to-back sales, whether they were first-time attendees or returning vendors, there were smiles galore.
“Sales have been pretty good,” said Floyd, Va.’s David Spangler, who returned this year with his handmade wooden bowls and utensils. “I brought a load down Thursday and finished setting it up Friday morning, and have been here since about 6 a.m.”
Spangler, who operates Virginia Hardwood Utensils, said the crowd started showing up around 10:30 Friday morning.
“It’s been fairly steady,” he said with a smile. “People are still spending some money, but it’s been cut back from years past.”
And he should know.
Spangler began attending the annual Mount Airy festival more than two decades ago, first coming with his father-in-law.
“This is one of our favorite events,” he said. “I have items that range from $1 to $100, and want to offer something for the people who may just want to spend a little.”
As he was talking, another group stopped by his booth and began perusing his wares.
A similar message could be heard from a first-time attendee this year.
Perhaps having traveled the farthest to attend the festival, New Mexico’s Jill Shank brought her line of hand-crafted jewelry and glass beads to the event.
Shank, who operates Firenza Beads, said she has been planning to come to the festival for some time.
“I have a cousin who lives in Asheville,” she said, “so I have been coming to the area since I was little, but it’s my first time in Mount Airy.”
“It’s a really neat town,” she said as she looked over the thousands wandering the booths.”The people are fantastic and the town is lovely.”
As for the festival, Shank, who creates her pieces from imported Italian glass, called the crowd “great.”
“There are a lot of people here spending some money,” she said. “And just seeing the smiles is wonderful.”
Shank said she plans to stay in town for a little while after the festival winds down Sunday.
“Monday morning, I’m taking a squad car tour,” she said with a smile. “I can’t wait.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.