Dayton festival suffers low turnout

DAYTON -- Despite high winds and a low turnout, craft vendors at the first Strings, Shakespeare and Spirits festival Saturday weren't discouraged.

They held on to their tent poles with one hand and their crafts with the other as the wind threatened to blow away their profits. The 13 vendors stayed open throughout the morning until 2 p.m. when the strong winds forced them to close up early. And through all this hard work, only a few people came up to Dayton Valley Golf Course to browse through the crafts.

But the vendors didn't complain.

"If I make a few dollars it's better than staying at home in bed," said Dayton resident and craft vendor, Ramie Thomas.

Thomas, who sells woodwork that she cuts and paints herself, said she was happy at the fair. She has been going to craft fairs for four years, and she enjoys every one.

"You sit by yourself doing everything, it's nice to get a chance to meet everybody," she said.

The craft fair was part of the Strings, Shakespeare and Spirits festival, which offered music and theater. Local jazz musicians, along with musicians from the philharmonic took the stage. Dayton Chamber of Commerce vice president Linda Diggs, described the Shakespeare presentation as "Clint Eastwood-style."

Diggs said one of the reasons the turnout was so low at the concerts was because of the high price of tickets. Each ticket was sold for $15.

Roxie Paine, executive director of the chamber, said next year's festival would be a different format to draw more of a crowd.

"This was an experiment," Paine said. "We're learning from our mistakes."

Denise Cole, a beekeeper, said she didn't mind that she wasn't selling a lot of merchandise.

"I go and take my chances," Cole said. " To me it's no loss."

Cole is from Somerset, Calif., near Placerville, and has beehives in Gardnerville. She said she goes to craft fairs to educate people about the importance of bees.

Her company, V & A Honey, sells hand and foot creams and lip balm, all made from beeswax. She also sells plenty of raw honey, bee pollen and beeswax.

"It's nature's medicine," she said, explaining that raw honey can cure allergies, and beeswax can heal burns, cuts and insect bites.

Cole, a Native American, said a lot of the recipes she uses are from her ancestors. Everything she makes is from natural ingredients.

Cole said she started beekeeping as a hobby eight years ago. And within one year, the bees multiplied into 120 hives and she had a full grown business with her family.

Martin Martinez travels across the country attending craft fairs. His home is in Alameda, N.M., and he came all the way to Dayton for the festival.

He said it doesn't matter whether the festival is large or small, the same type of people buy the jewelry he makes.

Martinez said he uses many different types of stones to make his jewelry. Everything is hand made. Martinez said he taught himself everything because there are no classes in hand making jewelry.

"It's an art form," he said. "I never write anything or sketch anything, it just comes out."

Martinez began making jewelry when he was a child. He said he was bored one day so he began making necklaces. He has been selling his jewelry for 30 years, and today it is his full-time job.


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