The “Festival Season” is here!. The word festival in North Carolina is truly synonymous with fun, food, games, music and arts and crafts. I saw an event titled Wilmington Riverfest and decided to go for it. A leisurely two-hour drive brought me there and as I stepped in, a waft of yummy french fries, kettle corn, freshly popped popcorn all greeted me. Savoring the smell and diverting myself from the food stalls, I eagerly started looking around.

This festival was very similar to some of the arts and crafts I had attended in the past, with the exception that the promotion of crafts from local artisans also included creative artists presenting their handmade products from Kenya, Mexico, and other states in the US. Rightly called as the “Art on the River”, the booths presented a motley of collection that were unique and appreciable.

Metal art dominated the first part and it was good to see sculptures of mermaid, sun, trees, fishes, birds, all representing the blessings of nature. The perfection and the end finish on the metal were so immaculate that one wondered at how the artist spent hours chiseling and carving them. Next came an interesting wood exhibit titled “log hogs” – it made many a visitors smile and the cute little hogs carved out of wooden barks were a sight to see. More so, was the artist who sent contently in his chair churning hogs after hogs , oblivious to the crowd gathered around his stall.

The spell of winter season was evident in some of the products like long winter caps for children, mufflers, scarves, woolen woven coats and jackets. Winter lighting dolls were stuffed with lights to shine in the night to celebrate the festive season. Decorative gourds hung from the stalls, and paper lanterns with bells ,all handmade, hung gaily with a gentle tinkling sound due to the refreshing breeze. Wooden handicrafts and decor with popular writings added a splash of color to the entire surroundings. One of the booths highlighted the handmade specialty of Kenyan handicrafts and had an interesting collection of soapstone products like little trays, coasters, small plates, animal and bird figurines, etc. Some sculptures from soapstone also retained the sheen of the original soapstone and were carved beautifully. Handmade jewelry were the specialties in several other booths and they were displayed neatly in a wire mesh hanger.

Another interesting technique of glass blowing was artistically demonstrated by a master craftsman. He sat working on several models of glass which came out as white crystals and also in several different hues of colors. Glass etching tools and welding tools were used to bring the best from the glass pieces and the finished pieces were top-notch. I spent some time looking at the process which included slumping the glass, heating it with flames, and then shaping glass at room temperature. The lady at the booth meanwhile talked to the customers about some of the techniques, while at the same time adeptly packing the glass sculptures to customers who had purchased it. I felt like I was spinning on a roller coaster ride as I watched the glass pieces being twirled and twisted and then manicured to a perfect shape of a bird or animal. WOW, what a transformation!

Overall, a perfect way to spend the day (not to miss mentioning the cool refreshing lemonade, hot french fries and popcorns). As the evening sun set quietly behind the river, I sat on one of the oldest buildings in Wilmington and watched the tourists take a walk down the riverfront and the downtown. Oh…I do look forward to another year of Riverfest :). Adieu for now.

Blog contributed by: Arthi Sridharan, Marketing Professional, North Carolina

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