It was a weekend for festivals, with the Pendleton Spring Jubilee on Saturday, and the Clemson International Festival on Sunday. Of course, I got my blog posts out of order, but hey, I’m in charge of this blog, so I’m allowed. Besides, I was in blogger mode for the Int’l Festival on Sunday, and it’s taken me longer to get my thoughts together for this one.
The Spring Jubilee is a tradition for all the locals, though not as much for the college students. The students haven’t been raised to go to it, from childhood on up, so I suppose that’s what makes the difference. But for all those people that flinch at the words “craft show”, it’s much more than that.
My family moved south when I was eight years old, and it didn’t take us too long to find the Jubilee, so I’m pretty sure we were attending it by the time I was ten. Held on the first weekend of April, for the last 36 years, it’s supposed to take advantage of the (usually) gorgeous spring weather, with the flowers just beginning to bloom. This year was no exception, with the weather almost reaching the 70’s, and I was able to start getting back my tan.
When we were children, the excitement was all about seeing the toys and games that were for sale in some booths, seeing how much food Mom and Dad would allow us to have, and spending our allowances on candy at The Mercantile. While my appreciation of the arts and crafts available has changed, over the years, my appreciation of the food has not lessened. I arrived at the show with big plans to have my first funnel cake in two years, because they don’t have them in Australia, and I haven’t been anywhere that has them, during my time in the U.S..
But I’m getting ahead of myself! Driving to Pendleton, I parked alongside the road on the approach to the square, where it doesn’t cost anything to park. I was shocked to find that people were paying $4-5 to park, closer to the square, when they could’ve walked a few extra yards for nothing. How crazy is that?
When you reach the traffic light, the first thing you hear is all the noise from the food wagons, because they have all their motors running behind them, to keep all the fridges and food makers going. Once you cross over to the square, you begin to hear the music from the stage in front of Farmer’s Hall. But you don’t actually go further, because there’s food nearby, and you have to stop.
Every year, the Knights of Columbus Kraut Haus sets up a booth to serve brats, kielbasa, and hotdogs, with sauerkraut and chili. Once I was within range, I smelled the ash from the grills (and got it all over my camera) and the smell of kraut in the pots. Despite my Pennsylvania Dutch background, I don’t actually like sauerkraut, though I love the smell. Comes of having it mixed into Thanksgiving smells, over the years. It’s homey, somehow.
But it being Saturday, I had slept late, and hadn’t eaten either breakfast or lunch, yet. So, I ordered a chili dog, just to be different. I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually had a chili dog, because I usually like hotdogs plain. Just felt like trying something new, I guess. It was yummy, even with the decorative pine needle (which I ate), though it was tricky to eat and keep it off my clothes.
When you see all my pictures of food, I don’t know if you realize how difficult it is to take pictures of food that’s in a cardboard boat or on a flimsy paper plate. You’re trying to balance the food in one hand and using a DSLR camera with the other. When you’re trying to hold onto a funnel cake that’s covered with powdered sugar, it’s even harder, because you don’t want to drop the cake or get sugar on yourself. So, don’t sneeze! I had this same trouble at the Int’l Festival, trying to balance the camera and the food, with no extra hand to change the focus. The trick is to hang the camera off your shoulder, adjust the focus with the same hand, and then pick it back up again.
After eating my chili dog, I crossed the street to visit The Mercantile. I’ve talked about this store before, but if you’ve never been there, you should go. Friends of my family own it (they knew my grandpa before he married my grandma), and it’s fun for crafty adults, as well as kids. Or anyone that likes candy or coffee.
If you’re in the market for flavored coffee, candy of every type, or supplies for scrapbooking and jewelry-making, then this is the place for you. When we were little, we would come and hand over our accumulated allowance money in order to get sticks of strawberry and watermelon flavored candy, or small bags of Swedish fish, Sour Patch Kids, and non-pareils. This is also where I had my very first job, when I was 17.
After leaving The Mercantile, I made my way down the line of foodmobiles, trying to decide whether to get my funnel cake, or go look at the booths. I made a quick stop at the front of the booths, to check out the bluegrass group playing in front of Farmer’s Hall, and then made my way to get my funnel cake. I was almost sidetracked by the food options, as I’ve never heard of a red velvet funnel cake with cream cheese icing. Talk about decadent! I thought regular funnel cakes were already awesome, though I do love the pumpkin funnel cakes that I can get at the Apple Fest in Pennsylvania.
And then another lady walked by me with one of those sweet tater wraps. I wished I’d brought someone else with me, so they could get one, and we could share our treats. But no one else would have been so patient about my camera wanderings, so I went to the show by myself. Don’t worry, I still had fun! And as hard as I’ve tried to explain funnel cakes to my Aussie friends, here are some good pictures, at last! The dough is put through something like a sifter (or something resembling a small badminton racquet), straight into the fryer, and then lifted out and coated with powdered sugar. Some parts are crispier than others, some are softer. Yum!
After cleaning all the sugar off my hands (didn’t want a sticky camera!), I began to go through the booths. The problem here is that some artisans are picky about having photos taken of their work. Understandable, because they don’t want people ripping off their work, whether it’s a child’s toy or a framed piece of art. Also, it’s troublesome to ask for permission, and I was really aiming to show off pictures of the SHOW, rather than all the individual artwork. So, I attempted to take some long shots, in the aisles between the booths, that would allow a glimpse of the artisans’ work, and make you wish you’d gone, so you could see a bit closer.
Everything from quirky yard ornaments to framed photos and paintings, glass ornaments and chimes, pottery of every type, and jewelry (and much more) were available. I’m much more of a cruiser, when I’m visiting a show like this. I go down the aisles, perusing the merchandise at a distance, and then go into the ones that I really like. You see, we’ve worked craft shows before, and I always feel badly after you look closely, compliment the artist… and then leave. Whereas, when I used to follow my grandma around the shows, I could loop the shows several times before she’d seen everything once. She would go see every booth, and take her time at it. : )
One booth, you may notice, belongs to Tia Turco (Our Attic Arts), was home to my one “I-shouldn’t-have-but-I-had-to” purchase. With jewelry made from old stamps from all over the world, I was suckered in at sight of two bracelets. No, not because I’m a sucker for jewelry (I’m cheap, I like to get jewelry at Claire’s). But back in the 50’s, there was a series of stamps made with quotes from famous Americans, and these had been turned into jewelry. A bracelet made just for an American history buff, who loves reading about the Founding Fathers and the writing of the Constitution? Yes, please!
I have no pictures of my bracelet, because I had to special order it. So, I’ll tell you more about it when it arrives in a few weeks. Suffice it to say, I was really interested in having two of the stamps that were on different bracelets, so I inquired whether changes could be made, or if she had extras. I know, I’m pitiful.
I loved how the oak trees of the Town Square framed some of my pictures. Just beginning to show green, as the leaves start to arrive (and right before the pollen gets going full blast). If you’ve never been to Pendleton Square, it’s all slightly downhill from the sidewalk, with occasional stairways leading down. A few benches are scattered here and there, but as you can see, people of all ages just settled themselves on the grass, when they wanted to rest or enjoy their snacks. For many of these folks, coming to the Jubilee is a tradition, and they wouldn’t miss it for the world.
And since this is a historical location, as the Farmer’s Hall was built in 1826, you will find interesting bits and pieces here and there, like the cannon. The kids, being shorter, are more likely to take notice of these. And the earlier building, displaying the Spring Jubilee sign, originally known as Hunter’s Store, now houses the Historical, Recreational, and Tourism Commission for Pendleton. You might’ve noticed the saggy brick in the front wall, in front of the building. I always want to take pictures of those, up close, but I’m afraid I’ll get run over in the process. : )
The Kettle Korn Peanuts booth was working hard, keeping up with the demand. Everybody wanted peanuts of some sort, though I’m hoping it wasn’t so much for the “bald” peanuts. Yuck. I have friends that love boiled peanuts, but try as I might (and I do, now and then!), I can’t stand them. I’ll even eat them with the shell on, hoping to improve the flavor.
From there, I made a short stop at Mountain Made, a favorite store of mine, and then worked my way down the last row of craft booths. A lady was playing guitar and singing her song “Rag Man”, as I made my way up the square.
When I crossed back to the food side, I saw that some of the food stands were doing such a rockin’ business that they had to cross off some of the menu items. Oh well, too bad I didn’t want a gyro. Instead, I wanted some Italian Ice, so I went and ordered a strawberry lemonade flavored one. As good as it was, and as nice as it was to eat something cold while walking back to my car, I hadn’t finished it before I reached my house. So, I handed the rest of it over to one of my brothers to finish. That’s what brothers are for, to finish the food you don’t have room for.
Perhaps I haven’t done a good job of explaining why visiting the Jubilee is such fun, but I did try. Everyone should try it at least once, so if you’re going to be in town next April, you should make your way over. And have a funnel cake, while you’re at it.