The 68th Waterford Homes Tour & Crafts Exhibit, familiarlyknown as the Waterford fair, opens Friday, for a three-day run inthe historic village west of Leesburg. Known for its manyactivities and focus on 18th and 19th century craftsmanship, thefair welcomes a number of new features this year in addition to thefamiliar sights and sounds.
The first fair opened in 1943 to showcase the traditionalcraftsmanship of the Appalachian region. And each year, the westernLoudoun village on the first Friday through Sunday of October playshost to craft demonstrators located all over the village, periodmusic and dance, baked goods, increasingly large art andphotography shows, tours of private homes, Civil War andRevolutionary War re-enactments, a dried flower exhibit and a booknook featuring numerous local authors and books about localhistory.
But it’s the new features this year that are creating “a goodbuzz this year,” Holmbraker said in reference to the most notableof the new attractions-an appearance Saturday, Oct. 8, by thecelebrated Seldom Scene bluegrass greats on the music roster.
On the music scene, always one of the highlights of the fair,organizers have another coup, netting an equally celebratedclassical duo, mandolinists Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg,who recently played to a full crowd at the Barns at Wolf Trap. Theywill perform on the Sunday afternoon.
Other features include the Waterford fair raffle, a largehand-hewn and hand-decorated onyx and gold wooden bowl, donated bycraft demonstrators Shaari Horowitz and Alistair Jones. Raffletickets for the 17-inch bowl cost $3 each or 4/$10, and areavailable at the Old School and the Waterford Foundation office inthe middle of the village.
The second of a series of commemorative Christmas ornamentsfeaturing different historic buildings in the village, this year’soffering depicts the second Street School, made by longtime craftdemonstrators Stuart and Karen Helble from round Hill. And thefoundation’s own 2011 Waterford tote bag should please everyone,Holmbraker said, along with another new item: Waterford wrappingpaper. the paper has been created from designs by fair tiledemonstrator Valerie Schaem, based on the 18th and 19th centuryarchitecture of the village, and comes in a pack of four sheetsalong with a description of the foundation’s buildings depicted.Holmbraker is particularly pleased with the tote bags: they arelarge, made of very strong canvas with one deep pocket and the millstenciled on the outside. both the ornament and the tote bag willsell for $20. All three items will be available at the Old mill,the Country Store and the Book Nook. this year’s poster is by MaryGustafson of Daydream Design in Lucketts.
The mill has been completely refurbished and a better trafficpattern installed, where fair patrons can find hundreds of craftitems. the Country Store features decorative tiles and a widevariety of baked goods, including cake, pies, cookies and currenthot picks, cupcakes and Black Dog gourmet coffee.
Civil and Revolutionary war activities are always a big featureat the fair, but, in honor of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, thoseefforts are being beefed up this year. the entertainment schedule,homes tour and the special exhibit will focus on local Civil Warconflicts, one of which took place in the village. Perhaps becauseof its strongly Quaker make-up, the village was mostly pro-Union inits sentiments.
For the first time, there will be a sizeable showing of cavalryat the fair. Re-enactors of the Independent Loudoun VirginiaRangers, the “Loudoun Rangers,” a Union cavalry unit comprised ofmen from the Waterford-Lovettsville area, will be on hand todemonstrate that long-ago local history in skirmishes with theConfederate Stonewall Brigade on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’sskirmish will feature a pitched battle in a field near the OldSchool, repeated the next day at the Schooley mill Barn area.Fairgoers also can see both cavalry troop units drill each day,visit their respective camps, watch as the Stonewall Brigade Fife& Drum Corp and Provost Guard marches through the village onSaturday and Sunday, and attend the always poignant wreath layingceremony Sunday at the Union of Churches (nothing to do with theUnion side) cemetery on Fairfax Street. the 8th Virginia Infantrywill be on hand as they have been for years at the Old School.
The educational exhibit will tell the story of the Quakervillage’s substantial involvement in the 1861 Secessioncontroversy. after laying out the issues, fairgoers will beencouraged to put their “conscience on the line” as in 1861 andshow how they would decide. a “ballot” kiosk will be available inthe middle of the village for voters, and the vote announced byunofficial Town Crier Jeff Bean. Similarly, those homes on the tourwith significant Civil War history will have signs depicting thathistory located at each.
Another major feature this year is the appearance of six Loudounwineries, organized through the Loudoun Winegrowers Association.Although wine tastings are now common around Loudoun at variousfairs and festivals, this will be a first for Waterford. Thehistory of wine-making in Loudoun will be related and the sixwinery booths will be located at the Schooley mill Barn, next toartisanal cheeses and the display of traditional and antique farmmachinery. For $10, fairgoers will receive a commemorative glass,with “Waterford Fair” on the side and four free small tastings fromeach winery of their best wines, red and white. Bottles also willbe for sale. Wineries represented include: Fabbioli Cellars,Hiddencroft Wineries, Loudoun Valley Vineyards, North GateVineyard, Notaviva Vineyards and Village Winery. in line with anemphasis on local rural enterprises, a beekeeper with hives at thefoundation’s Phillips Farm will bring his apiary and sellhoney.
But the largest new feature-certainly visually-of all will bethe large pile of dirt at the Old School, where the new auditoriumwalls are rising from the ground after the fire that destroyed thebuilding four years ago. the dirt pile and construction, however,won’t be any impediment to the craftspeople, food vendors and stageperformers on the Old School grounds, Holmbraker said.
Kathleen Hughes, manager of development programs for thefoundation, who has tirelessly spearheaded the grant-writing effortto raise the funds to rebuild, will be on hand at the Old School toupdate visitors on the progress of the construction and plans fornew programs, including a new lecture series and an expandedconcert schedule by the Waterford Concert Series, only too glad tobe back in its traditional home. Look for Hughes under a big yellowbanner at the Old School, where she will have architecturalrenderings of the new building on hand a handout titled “ThePromise of the New Old School.” Donations are still needed to raisethe full amount needed to complete the complex, but Hughespredicted “In 2012, the building will be the display-after fivelong years.”
But the heart of the fair remains the juried craftdemonstrators, who are selected as much for the educational qualityand extent of their demonstration as for the quality of theircraftsmanship. Of the 155 artisans who will be represented at thisyear’s event, there are 20 new demonstrators along with somereturning favorites, several of whom have been at the fair for 29years.
One new crafter, Furnace Mountain Alpacas from Taylorstown, willsell fine wool, sweaters and throws along with designs forknitters. Potters are big this year, Holmbraker said, citing 16demonstrating potters, “all different,” as well as 12 more withitems for sale in the mill. There will be plenty of choice,Holmbraker predicted, calling it “a passion for pottery this year.”Some come from afar, including Stephen Earp Redware, fromMassachusetts.
Blacksmithing is returning at the fair after a couple of leanyears, Hokbraker said, noting Wayfarer Forge from Afton, theScottish Lion blacksmiths from Maine who produce jointed piecesalong with traditional hooks, and the return of longtime smithsIron Apple Forge from Pennsylvania. Weavers also are popular,including new demonstrator, the Village Weaver, with traditionaldesigns for everyday utilitarian use such as dish towels along withelegant throws. Traditional wooden bowl carving is always fun towatch and another far-away visitor, Pribyl American Fork Art comesfrom Illinois. American folk stenciling is also a draw, and thisyear Floorcloths by Michele, from New Hampshire, will feature placemats and floor coverings.
Fine furniture is a hallmark of the Waterford fair and MacHeadley and Sons, of Berryville, who have been coming to the fairfor many years, will be back in their usual location at the OldSchool tent. other longtime fair demonstrators include ceramicistsMills & Zoldak, who have been coming for 29 years; BaumPottery, several times cited as Best Demonstrator, from Lebanon,OH; and basket maker Jeffrey Gale, whose non-stop description anddemonstration of his craft have won him plaudits for entertainmentas well as craftsmanship.
Another longtime staple is Hammersong, creators of traditionaltin items, from Wisconsin. their cookie cutters-that defy today’suse of the phrase as all the same-are anything but and their highlyindividual pieces are highly sought after. that group has beencoming for 23 years, while also on the Village Green isSurreybrooke Candles, a 28-year demonstrator, from Middletown,MD.
In terms of longevity as a craft demonstrator, the WaterfordWeavers Guild and the Waterford Quilters can hardly be beat. Theweavers add a twist with their “waulking of the wool” process, alengthy and often tedious (to the one performing the task) job ofpulling the wool apart. To relieve the tedium, another longtimefair participant, singer Melissa Weaver Dunning, performs old-timesongs. in the center of the village, probably the longest-runningfeature at the fair, Keith Young’s mill Run Dulcimer band returnsto enchant fairgoers with its gentle and relaxed sound, a populardraw each year, interspersed with performances by a barbershopquartet across the street.
Food is everywhere, found at each of the major demonstratorareas, such as the Moravian rolls at the Old School, lighterversions of a traditional doughnut, sold by vendors clad intraditional Moravian dress. Woodfired Pizza at Schooley mill Barnwent over well last year, and those interested in sweet and savorycrepes can find them at the Bond Street Barn. the Bavarian NutCompany sells a variety of products on second Street. Coming with agreat reputation for outstanding barbecue new provider Mr. B’sBarbecue from Berryville at the Waterford Citizens Association’sstand at the Old School. Many of the food vendors are Loudoun civicgroups, for whom the fair is a major fundraiser, including theWaterford PTO, which has two booths, selling fresh pastries andwraps. And vegetarians will be pleased to note they also can findtasty non-meat sandwiches and wraps at the Old School from SherlockFoods.
The music roster includes a wide variety-Celtic, bluegrass,Civil War and 19th century songs, gospel, barbershop, balladeers,dulcimer-including performances by the Mt. Zion Methodist GospelChoir from Leesburg and the 60-strong Loudoun Chorale.
A 64-page booklet with listings of all 155 craft demonstratorsand where they are, performance and Civil War times and locations,food vendors and details of all major exhibits during the faircomes with each tickets. Parking is located in three areas andadmission is $15 in advance at ticket outlets through 5 p.m.Thursday, Oct. 6, or $17 at the gate per day. Ages 12 and under arefree, and multiple day tickets are available for furtherreductions.
For a listing of ticket outlets, visitwww.waterfordfoundation.org.