Slice of life

Festival of Crafts entering 56th year of operation

Daily Orange File Illustration

David Barnet is one of the main figures in organizing the Festival of Crafts, but when he's not working with the organization, he farms apples.

For David Barnet, growing apples is a way of life. But when he’s not out in the fields, he leads the Rochester Folk Art Guild.

A community of people who lead their lives through making crafts will attend and sell their goods at the Festival of Crafts in both Syracuse and Rochester, NY this weekend. Put together by the Folk Art Guild, the event has been around for 56 years.

People in the central New York area attend this event yearly to see beautiful, handmade crafts, alongside entertainment and live music. The people within the guild have dedicated their lives to pottery, woodworking, weaving, clothing and wooden toys.

During the event, artisans will present their work to the public in the hall of DeWitt Community Church, a nondenominational Christian facility. This space regularly changes into an area where people come and appreciate the crafts produced with generous amounts of time and effort, as well as care and devotion.

This is where Barnet comes in — he is one of the artisans who shows his woodwork at the festival. He also handles the publicity of the Guild. He became involved in the Guild in 1975 and has stayed with it ever since. Barnet said the beauty of the area and the space is an aspect of the event that truly makes an impression on people.

“It’s a great location because it’s pretty much the heart of DeWitt,” Barnet said. “We’ve been in four places in Syracuse and this is definitely the best.”

Barnet added that people are drawn to this event every year not simply because of the crafts, but because of the energy of the festival.

“You can’t walk away without feeling like something is happening here,” Barnet said. “We try to convey that when we’re on the road, by bringing the quality of work that we’ve produced, and working with our best care and attention.”

The artisans within the guild care deeply about the quality of their work. People that come to the festival praise admire their attention to detail.

According to Barnet, the majority of people who attend this event are usually married couples, along with their young children, and occasionally teenagers. It is usually a “balanced demographic,” Barnet said.

“We’ve built up a pretty good following over the course of time, within making things and bringing them to different cities, and there is a loyal following. Of course we are always looking for new people,” he said.

The Guild is welcoming anyone and everyone to attend the event, and Barnet would love to inspire Syracuse students to come see all that this festival has to offer.

The Festival of Crafts is something that the Guild works towards throughout the year by gathering a significant inventory and pieces that can be shown at the festival. The goal is to have a large variety among the crafts for every demographic and every interest an attendee may have.

“It’s a pretty dazzling display of handmade work. It’s colorful with all shapes and sizes of displays. You are just kind of struck with how much there is to take in,” he said.

The crafts displayed at the festival are made for every age demographic and gender. The prices can range from $10 to over $200, depending on the item. So, the average student can purchase a wooden back scratcher, or a wooden toy for their toddler for $10, while a husband and wife may choose to purchase a handmade wooden salad bowl for $250.

Above all, what truly makes this event special are the craftsmen, Barnet said. To them, seeing the public’s reaction, feedback and appreciation is just as important as actually making it.

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