Harvest Faire attracts a crowd
Last updated 10/10/2023 at 10:39am
"Mom, come look at this," said Tess Sidwell, age 9, from Bend. "No, mom, come over here," pleaded her brother Evan, 7. Moms and dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, along with best friends, daters, dancers, buskers, and curiosity seekers of all stripes packed East Main Avenue between Elm and Larch streets Saturday and Sunday.
Tess and Evan were captivated by animal wood carvings at one of 150-plus tents that lined the avenue for the annual Harvest Faire, always the second weekend in October and sponsored by Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce. By the time the doors (tent flaps) opened at 10 a.m. Saturday, perhaps 500 attendees were already anxiously pacing the perimeter hoping to get first looks.
It was a cornucopia of artisan crafts and foods. Everything from pottery, metal art, photography, painting, jewelry, clothing, furniture, home décor, specialty foods, and scented items were on display.
"That was crazy," said Marilyn Beale, who makes and sells lavender-based soaps. "For the first hour there were so many people it was too crowded to sell things. Just no room for folks to pick up our products and take a sniff. Don't get me wrong, this is a great problem to have."
By 11 a.m. the crowds shifted, spread out, and made room for the hundreds more who streamed in all through the afternoon. Like the 2022 rendition, the Faire held court in banner weather under an umbrella of crystal-blue skies with temps peaking in the upper 70s.
Sunscreen and brimmed hats were essential. Morning lightweight jackets and sweaters gave way to shirtsleeves. Shoppers keenly adjusted their direction so the bright sun did not impeded their view of the many treasures before them.
"I go to a lot of these," Kimmy Young of Springfield told The Nugget. "I was at the one in Corvallis last week and I keep coming to the Sisters Faire for the quality. Everything here is genuine and of excellent craftsmanship," she said appreciatively.
"You know what I mean," she said, telling of one craft show she visited this summer where the "Peruvian" ponchos were made in Bangladesh.
Vendors seemed all smiles, and while most in attendance were merely admiring, shopping bags were seen in abundance. As with many such street fairs, most purchases are small, like jewelry, mittens, scarves, and small quantities of gourmet foods that fit into purses or pockets.
Many came from small towns within 100 miles of Sisters, where there is no access to gourmet foods or handmade gift items.
"Believe it or not, I'm doing my Christmas shopping," said Judy Teague from Gilchrist in Klamath County. "All of my family is back in the Midwest and I like to treat them with things made in Oregon."
The vendors were from far and wide, but many had a hometown cachet with their business name including words like Tumalo, Bend, Deschutes, or Cascade.
"You don't come here for bargains," said Ray Folger from Culver. "We can go to the thrift store if we're looking to save money."
"We come here for the quality and the selection," his wife, Cate, elaborated. "But mainly we enjoy seeing so much art in one place."
The Harvest Faire is a juried event and artisans take the challenge seriously. Many of the offerings are autumn-themed and exclusive to this event.
"Mainly it's a lot of fun," said Kristi Cotter, who sells a range of hand-knitted infant clothing. "This isn't how I support myself but how I stay connected and meet some amazing people," she said.
"In Sisters so many people who come into my booth are artists themselves and we get carried away chatting and exchanging ideas, sometimes I forget that I'm here to sell things," said Mary Lucas, one of several sculptors on exhibit. "It's so nice to be among knowledgeable people. Sisters is a true arts and crafts town, not just that cowboy stuff so many think."
There was live music both days at Fir Street Park and impromptu dancing needed no coaxing from the bands. On the streets musicians sprouted, like the Sugar Sweet Swing Band, a Sisters-based quartet with rousing homespun, old-time music.
And no Faire would be complete without corn dogs, candied popcorn, and other street-food trucks, which were often 10 deep with customers. Nearby businesses cashed in on the crowds and parking was hard to come by even for savvy locals.
It seemed like every fourth or fifth attendee had a dog in tow. And large numbers of the physically challenged took in the good times in strollers or wheeled chairs.
"This is how we play in Sisters," said Louise Taylor who brought three daughters, and five grand-daughters to the Faire, all of whom broadcast huge smiles.