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Celebrating traditions at Cranberry Shindig

Kenny DeLong, of Columbus, Ohio, and Barbara Daniels, of Richwood, left, flat foot to the music of Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters at Sunday afternoon’s Cranberry Shindig. S. Stewart photo
Kenny DeLong, of Columbus, Ohio, and Barbara Daniels, of Richwood, left, flat foot to the music of Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters at Sunday afternoon’s Cranberry Shindig. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

People made their way in droves to Cranberry Mountain Nature Center Sunday for the annual Cranberry Shindig, where traditions of the mountains are celebrated.

Tents popped up in every direction around the center, as individuals sold and demonstrated their crafts.

The Shindig was abuzz with visitors taking in the sights, sounds and aromas of the day – colorful knitted items, pottery, carved wood sculptures, bluegrass music and handmade goats milk soaps – just to name a few.

Vendors return each year for the one-day event to enjoy the camaraderie as well as share their wares and talents with visitors.

“I love to see the smiles on people’s faces, especially the children,” rock painter Nancy Merical, of Fairplain, said.

Merical paints animals of all shapes and sizes onto rocks she collects. While it isn’t the lightest craft to take from place to place, Merical said she loves to work with rocks.

“I’ve always loved to create, and I’ve always loved rocks, too,” she said. “I was in a book club for crafts and I saw this book about how to paint animals on rocks. Now I’ve got a reason to hunt up all these rocks.”

Some crafters continue their work to keep the art form alive.

For Roger Holder, of Ravenswood, refurbishing chairs is a passion because he’d rather see a chair get a new life than be lost to a landfill.

Holder takes old chairs and replaces the seats with macrame woven seats. He also does the backs of the chairs if they are in disrepair.

“I bought a kit years ago and did it, and it turned out good,” he said. “Years later I decided to try it again. I refurbish old chairs. I hate to see them get thrown out.”

Along with chairs, Holder also refurbishes benches and doll-sized chairs.

Many artists, including Holder, were demonstrating their work while selling wares. Jeannie Collins, of Lewisburg, has been spinning yarn and knitting for nearly 40 years, so it’s easy for her to spin wool as she visits with old friends and new acquaintances at the Shindig.

Collins began spinning wool when she was given an orphan lamb and a spinning wheel – which didn’t happen at the same time, but led her down the path, nonetheless.

“First, I had a little orphan lamb that was a gift to my girls and she was so adorable that we went and got a Cotswold ewe and a Cotswold ram, and we started to have a flock of sheep,” she said. “I was gifted with this spinning wheel and I didn’t think I was going to like it, but after a few years, I loved it.”

Collins dyes her wool in vibrant colors and mixes them together to make one-of-a-kind skeins of yarn.

“I mostly make hats because they’re quick and easy, and I can sell them at the Farmers Market in Lewisburg,” she said. “Then, I love to make sweaters. My supply is very limited right now, so I’ve got lots of work to do.”

It wouldn’t be a Shindig without entertainment, and it was lively entertainment, as usual.

The Appalachian Country Cloggers drew the crowd in with their square dancing and clogging. Dance caller Lou Maiuri and the Cloggers taught members of the crowd how to dance and took them for a swing around the parking lot.

While the dancers rested, Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters performed selections of old-time music, bluegrass and gospel songs in the field near the entrance to the center.

As the crowd enjoyed the lively music, flat-footers Barbara Daniels, of Richwood, and Kenny DeLong, of Columbus, Ohio, jigged along with the tunes.

“Whenever I can get to places like this is the only chance I get to dance,” Daniels said. “I just love bluegrass. I love to dance, too. Somebody gave me some tap shoes, and boy, that’s like learning how to fly. I’m waiting to get back on the hard top to dance.”

The traditions of the mountains continue to call back visitors and with a name like Shindig, it’s hard to stay away.

“I love the old-timey feel and the music,” Collins said. “It’s so beautiful up here. It’s one of my favorite places ever.”

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