Thursday, December 17, 2015

Sampling Christmas at Waterford Winterfest

On a gloriously warm Saturday I met a friend at Waterford for their first ever Winterfest. The village always has a fall fair but for the first time in 71 years it was cancelled due to storm warnings. The cancellation was a financial blow for the Waterford Foundation, so to try and raise funds the Winterfest was born. There were going to be craft vendors and a house tour around some of the village's historic homes.
The inside of the old school where we picked up our house tour map. It was freezing in there we were glad to get back outside to balmy climes again!
This sweet little cat was soaking up the warm sun through the shop window and posed prettily for her photo before curling up again to resume her nap. She reminded me of my own little Rosie Lee, who I really need to stop referring to as 'little', because she has actually now matured into a chunky, well-muscled cat whose forearms resemble those of a weightlifter.
One artist had opened up her house for the first time to sell her beautiful knitted and other handmade crafts.It felt a little odd walking through the front door and standing in her lounge but it made me feel nostalgic as her home resembled many old English houses.
The art galleries were also open and I spotted these bunnies on the ground outside one of them. I kept mentioning to Belinda that there didn't seem to be many visitors today, which was a shame since the funds were so badly needed, but as the day wore on we did see more folks walking around.
The vibrancy of these bird houses caught my eye, strong solid colors with their copper embellishments. There were also miniature versions of them to hang indoors or on the Christmas tree.
 I was particularly drawn to one vendor, Kathy, who had on display shawls, scarves and various freeform art yarns,, all from her own farm animals, which could be used to knit into an item or worn as an infinity scarf. The colors were wonderful and I knew I wanted one but had an extremely difficult time trying to select a color combination, they were all so pretty. I finally chose a 'summery' palette which reminded me of Meadow House and took a photo when I got home of my new scarf draped over the green shutter screen on the patio.
Her website is here.
Santa Claus welcomed us at the old barn which was filled with more craft vendors.
The cats painted on to gourds made me smile with their whimsical expressions, and I loved the Christmas apron. I picked up one of the tiny velvet carrots embellished with embroidery threads and tiny beads, but at $18 each I had to put it back down again. Yet the detail was exquisite.
We started on our house tour and it really does feel strange walking inside peoples' homes with the intention of being very nosy, but we were put immediately at ease as soon as we entered, so I soon relaxed and enjoyed the experience. The owner of the Pink House did let me take a photo of her incredible Gingerbread House. She makes them annually and this year it was a replica of her childhood home in honor of her parents. She explained that it took about 10 days to build, on and off, chuckling that sometimes they would collapse under the weight. I'd never considered that but on closer observation, this was understandable, there was so much detail and ornamentation on the structure. I'd never want to eat it, it was far too beautiful to consume!
At all of the homes we visited we were greeted warmly by docents or the owners and treated to homemade refreshments after our tour. We nibbled on homemade cookies and cakes while sipping mulled or sparkling cider, the warm intoxicationg fragrances of their baking enveloping us as we walked through rooms listening to historical artifacts or family tales.
Although I would have loved nothing more than to take photos of the houses inside, obviously this wasn't allowed but I did take a couple of shots of their beautiful scenic views that they enjoyed from their patios or decks.
The last home on our tour was that of Brian Whelan, an artist who's work is definitely unforgettable. I wasn't too impressed initially, at first glance they seemed busy and almost aggressive  but then I leaned in and studied more closely. After listening to the stories relating to some of the pieces, most of which have a religious theme, I was captivated. And the colors used are glorious. I was very tempted to touch the paintings with their shiny textured areas but knew better than to ask. He uses mainly acrylics, embellishing each piece with foil candy wrappers that lend a metallic sheen to the colorful canvases. These are saved by chocolate munching fans who forward them on to him, there was even a bag sitting on the bench as we chatted. and with him being a fellow Brit we were soon laughing together like old friends over tales of his artist tours. I liked this article on his website, written in 2011 when he lived in England.
 I don't know if the foundation succeeded in recouping its losses from the fall fair cancellation but I hope that the Winterfest will now become an annual event as well. The village, vendors and homeowners had really gone out of their way to welcome strangers into the village. I'd left feeling like I'd made family friends, and it most surely was a lovely way to begin the Christmas season.

No comments: