Storytelling, history, antiques highlight Blanchard’s fall festival

By Robin Miller • Last Updated 5:28 pm on Monday, September 26, 2011

EDMORE— American tales, clowns and old-fashioned charm delighted visitors of the fourth annual Harvest Fest on Saturday in downtown Blanchard.

Wally Ewing demonstrates to Sarah, Leah, Laura and Emma Storey how American pioneers started fire using plant fiber, flint and steel.

It is apple harvest time and storyteller Rebecca Bundy likes to connect stories to actual events.
“I weave storytelling with reading practices,” said Bundy, family programming coordinator for the Chippewa District Library system. “I want to encourage parents to become role models and I give ways to tell stories that relate to history, places and events.”
After Bundy’s audience at the Rolland Township Library listened to the American tale of Johnny Appleseed, she explained the truths and exaggerations about Johnny, including that his real name was John Chapman. He was born Sept. 26, 1774, planted apple trees to provide food for traveling settlers and went barefoot with a pot on his head.
However, he didn’t sleep in a hammock from the top of the tallest tree, couldn’t talk to animals and his callused feet weren’t impervious to the bite of a rattlesnake. Bundy finished by treating the group to homemade apple turnovers and smiled as she told one last story.
“I remember baking apple turnovers with my grandmother and asking when they would turnover,” she said.
Other tales from the time when Blanchard was a turn-of-the-century logging camp linger in the old shops. The creaking wooden floors at Loafers Glory tell of its previous existence as a late-1800s hardware store.
A mini village of several quaint shops, Loafers Glory was established in 1986 by Alan and Jo Anne Camp and has become a popular travel destination.  At Loafers Glory, guests browsed for antiques and home decor, ate lunch in the Wild Flower Tea Room, visited the Sunflower Bakery and watched a rug braider and blacksmith at work.

Colonial Treasures manager Debra Bell holds a century-old Blanchard Blue Brick found at the building’s original site. The blue color is achieved by firing the brick at a high temperature under low-oxygen conditions.

Other vintage items were available at Best Friend’s Antiques and Art and Style. Owner Linda Lowther says each display in her shop is a work of art.
“I look for things that are unique to create a display by using a common theme or color,” Lowther said. “Sometimes the first thing I buy at an estate sale or flea market gives me an idea and then I find myself gravitating toward things that go with it.”
Outside the Colonial Treasures mercantile, Wally and Rachel Ewing of Fremont re-enacted pioneer life. Colonial Treasures, now owned by Jim and Martha Perkins, was built in 1865 in the logging camp of Dwightville.
After logging was completed in the 1890s, the abandoned building was rolled on logs by a team of horses to its current location about a mile away.  It has housed a country store, furniture store, restaurant, post office, beauty shop, dress shop, antique store and now has returned to a country mercantile.
Leighton Chapman told the history of blacksmithing as he made a yard votive holder in a charcoal-filled forge by using a cast steel floor cone, hammer, vise, anvil and other shaping tools and a slack tub to cool the 1,500-degree steel. Chapman was assisted by Jeff Barstow, a retired engineer who teaches blacksmithing at a Boy Scout camp in Kalkaska.
“I always wanted to be a blacksmith from the time I was a small boy,” said Chapman, who does blacksmithing as a hobby. “Unfortunately, you don’t make a lot of money as a blacksmith.”
Another local hobbyist, Jim Patrick, displayed his Do-Nothing Machine outside Time N Again consignment store. Made in Indiana by Jim’s older brothers, onlookers were entertained by the machine’s perpetual movement of recycled machinery and other odds-and-ends.
Jim says he would like to enter the machine in the Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition in the near future.

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