I had been a vendor at the Great Blue Heron Festival in Sherman, New York three times from 2016 through 2018. It was a fun festival, but while it was great to always be neighbors with the extraordinary Mexican leather maker Gabriel and his family, our small booth 10 x 10 foot booth seemed tucked away, and sales were just OK. Since we got accepted into the first sort-of-post COVID festival, I decided to risk spending more for a larger 10 x 20 foot booth. While the location was more visible, it was challenging putting up the booth on the space where the ground in the front of the tent was a good foot lower than the rear of the tent. This is where having a spare collection of assorted pieces of wood comes in handy.
There is no doubt that Blue Heron is a very fun festival. People come with all manner of colorful clothing, tattoos, and behaviors. I didn't have any volunteers to help me at this event, so I especially appreciated having good conversations with customers who were interested in our work in Peru and happy to share parts of their life stories. One memorable regular visitor to our booth was Eric Stayer better known as Bushy Vanderbilt who is a part-time wizard that has won multiple competitions for his well quaffed beard.
I discussed the ins and outs of plant and wildlife imports to the US with Samra who works for the Dept. of Agriculture and was impressed that naturalist Bruce Robinson was able to identify the species of every woven bird from North and South America including a Royal flycatcher that I had thought was an artisan's creation.
At these festivals, I sleep in the back of my car on top of a few pads with a sleeping bag and wake at sunrise, clean up a bit with some baby wipes, (showers are sometimes available but are sometimes expensive), have some breakfast of instant oatmeal or granola with trail mix and almond milk, and then make my way to the booth by 9 am to tidy up and restock and then prepare the trivia questions for the day. It's a socially intense day of speaking with customers that usually lasts until midnight. It was surprising that one of the first ornaments we sold was a beautiful great blue heron woven with chambira palm fiber. Our handwoven hot pads and new collection of earrings were also popular.
I had fun swapping jokes with fellow vendors Susan and James who sell clothing for the Apasara brand. They were also kind enough to watch my booth while I darted out for the occasional trip to the porta-potty. I am forever grateful to them for helping me pack up my booth at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 2018 on very short notice when I got the news that I had to immediately go to South Carolina where my mother was nearing her last days. My after hours buddies were Brian and Michelle from another clothing seller who I joined for one quick trip to the fire and drum circle (where I watched) and the dance tent (where I did dance).
Fair Trade Francie was present at the Blue Heron festival again showing an ensemble of color coordinated accessories. Several customers really appreciated the bottle carriers to tote around their water during the very hot days.
Happy Heron to all.
See you next year.
See all photos from the Great Blue Heron Festival 2022 on our Facebook page.
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Meeting with artisans from Puca Urquillo to design a market bag with chambira palm fiber...
"That afternoon I met with two Bora artisan groups and one Huitoto group in Puca Urquillo. It was great to see that a few samples really hit the mark, and I placed an order for one design with all three. With luck we will have our first batch of chambira market bags ready for sale by mid-summer."