You’re going to want to sit down for this. Because what I’m about to tell you is shocking. Believe it or not, there are other things to do at the American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront than shop. I know, I know, it’s a little bit hard to get your head around at first — I was a little surprised to learn that some people go for the music. And the kettle corn. And the dancing.
Really, who wants to hear dozens of uniquely American bands? What, pray tell, is so exciting about joining a few thousand people in a steel-drum parade? And do they actually need a dance tent? I mean, who likes salsa, polka and contradancing, anyway? Betcha that place is like a ghost town once the sun goes down.
This could be a good thing, because it’s right near the vendor marketplace, which is obviously the only reason most people go to the festival in the first place. With booths like Adornments by Lisa Bess, who sells the coolest jewelry, how could anyone be distracted by the dance tent?
I will say this: The traditional wooden marionettes made by Fort Kent’s Fish River Crafts do make me want to tap my feet. A little. But don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t go to the folk festival to bop. I go there to shop. You’d think it was my job or something. But that would just be ridiculous — I mean, who gets paid to write about shopping, anyway?
But I digress. Let’s get back to the matter at hand: vendors, and lots of them. I’m pretty excited to see my old faves, such as Done Roving Farm & Carding Mill, which sells great yarn and felted items; Wrenovations Stained Glass; Terry Williamson’s wire and semiprecious stone jewelry; and Naturally Bee-Ewe-tiful — don’t even get me started on the beeswax baby line.
I’m even more excited to see a few names I don’t remember from years past. Timberstone Rustic Arts, which makes stone lamps, vases, bookends and accessories, is new to me. So is Kineo Flies, which makes hand-tied flies that are like little works of art. And It’ll be nice to see Classy Iron’s forged metal furniture and accessories.
I’m looking forward to seeing Eclectic Art Designs by Lacey Brown, whose jewelry is inspired by her African-Asian-American heritage. The jewelry by Rocks, Minerals & More should, well, rock. And Molten Mama’s handmade glass beads should be red-hot. I’m pretty fleeced up about Betsey Leslie’s woolens, and I’m intrigued by the idea of Rose Whitehead’s Scandinavian felt and thread creations.
After shopping my way through the festival for six straight years, I’ve learned two things: she who hesitates has lost, and always bring cash or a checkbook, just in case. Actually, make that three things: just because the folk festival is in town, doesn’t mean they roll up the sidewalks in downtown Bangor.
I know, I know, that half-block does seem oh-so-far away, but there are plenty of excellent places to shop in Bangor. Besides, what else would I do? Go to the Maine Discovery Museum? Stop by the Bangor Symphony Orchestra? Take in a show at Penobscot Theatre? Nope, that would be way too much culture for this kid.
Instead, I’ll try on Level 99 jeans at Bella Luna. For the 50th time. I’ll score a great bargain at American Retro. I’ll want everything at Rebecca’s. I’ll covet jewelry at Metropolitan Soul. I’ll ogle a purse at Maureen Elizabeth Handbags. And while I’m at it, I might even treat my feet to a new pair of shoes at The Grasshopper Shop. Not dancing shoes, mind you, but something comfortable.
That way, I’ll have something comfortable to wear while I walk around the festival grounds. But as I said earlier, I’m really just in it for the shopping. I’ll leave the music, the dancing and the fun — did I say fun? I meant food — to those tens of thousands of other people. Let them groove to zydeco. Let them sway to Gospel. Let them eat cake. Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake from River Drivers, that is.
These people clearly have messed-up priorities. Next thing you know, they’ll be trying to tell us that the arts and culture are a good thing. And that we’ll have loads of fun at the Acadian house party. And that alligator nuggets really taste like chicken.
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2008 American Folk Festival Folk Art & Craft Vendors
Adornments by Lisa Bess: hand-etched and painted copper jewelry made from recycled items, www.lisabess.com
Braided Works: hand-braided woolen rugs
Classy Iron: iron candle holders, hooks, shelf brackets, plant holders, sculptures, tables www.classyiron.net
Common Folk Farm Herbs: herbal teas, seasonings, sachets, jams, jellies, butters, catnip products; scone, tea bread and soup mixes; www.commonfolkfarmherbs.com
Done Roving Farm & Carding Mill: felted tube jackets, hand-painted yarns, felted functional art, hooked items, wood rugs, raw fiber kits; www.doneroving.com
Eclectic Art Designs: wire art jewelry; www.eclecticartdesigns.com
Field of Dreams Soaps: handcrafted soap, beeswax tapers, soy candles; www.fieldofdreamssoaps.com
Fine Pine Designs: fine finished hardwood tables, step stools, toys, baskets
Finesse: handcrafted sterling silver and 14k gold jewelry
Fish River Crafts: traditional wooden marionettes; www.marionettes.com
Golden Apple Pottery: wheel-thrown, hand-glazed functional and decorative pottery www.goldenapplepottery.com
Gypsy Moose Glass Co.: lampwork glass figurines, goblets and candlesticks www.gypsymooseglass.com
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Bangor: handmade house pins, gift boxes www.habitatbangor.org
Hand Knotted Linen Jewelry: lovely jewelry pieces
Island Intarsia: intarsia wood artwork and scrollwork of Maine birds, animals and scenes
Jacks Gourmet Pickles and Relish: pickles, relish, jams, jellies and salsa; www.jackspickles.com
Jewelry by Terry Williamson: Sterling silver and 14 karat gold-filled wire craft jewelry
Kineo Flies: hand-tied flies, handmade bait hooks, pictures made with flies
Leatherworkers: leather belts, bags, sheepskin hats and slippers
Maine Bird Carvings: carved decorative decoys, shore birds, Christmas ornaments, magnets, bookends
Maine Coast Herbals: herbal teas, creams, salves, oils, soaps, herbal remedies for pets, mineral makeup; www.maineherbs.com
Mic-Mac Indian Crafts: Native American items, including turtle shell clocks, bags, silver jewelry, dream catchers, horn rattles and other items
Mildred Crocker and Louise Campbell: tatted items, potato beads, jewelry
Molten Mama Lampwork Beads: lampwork beads and jewelry; http://moltenmama.etsy.com
Mountain Mama of Maine: natural herbal personal care products; www.mountainmamaofmaine.com
Native Arts Gallery: Sterling silver wrought with semi-precious stones
Naturally Bee-Ewe-tiful: beeswax-based skincare for men, women and babies; www.naturallybee-ewe-tiful.com
No Repeats by Jo Eaton: crocheted hats, crowns and beanies; www.norepeatsfiberworks.com
Norumbega Woodcarvers: carved ducks, birds, fish, flowers, Maine scenes
Peterson Woodworking: wooden kitchen utensils, bowls and peppermills
Rocks, Minerals & More: wire-wrapped jewelry, cabochon pendants, mineral fountains, light catchers and stone ornaments
Rose Whitehead Fiber Fabrications: hand-felted ornaments, necklaces, hats, purses, pillows, scarves and shawls
Running Brook Farm: natural colored and hand-dyed fleeces for spinners or crafters, yarns, hand-knit garments, patterns
Sew’n Wild Oats: Fleece pillbox hats, winter accessories, children’s clothing and accessories, baby car seat covers, www.fabfleece.com
Stanchfield Farms: all-natural specialty foods, including pickles, relish, chutney, jams, marinades, dips and sauce mixes; www.stanchfieldfarms.com
Worcester’s Wild Blueberries: blueberry jam, jelly, syrup, honey, pie filling, juice drink, blueberry pie slices and fresh berries (in season); www.wildblueberryproducts.com
Wrenovations Stained Glass Creations: stained-glass artwork; www.wrenovations.com
Timberstone Rustic Arts: natural stone vases, furnishings and lamps; www.timberstonerusticarts.com