By RICHARD F. BELISLE
7:39 PM EDT, June 15, 2013
HARPERS FERRY, W.Va.
Notably missing from the 42nd spring Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival this weekend was the booth occupied by Pam and Ren Parziale, owners of Sycamore Pottery in Kearneysville, W.Va.
Instead of plates, bowls and vases, the shelves and walls carried the works of mixed-media artisan Rebecca Grace Jones of Shepherdstown, W.Va.
The Parziales have been setting up their booth on the corner of tent No. 3 since the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce held the first craft show in 1972. The couple said it was time to end their run of setting up for both festivals over 41 years.
“We’re not getting any younger,” Pam Parziale said. “Ren’s 75 and I’m 70. We believe it’s time to encourage younger artisans to take over.”
“We’ve slowed down, yes. Stopping, no,” Ren Parziale said. “Our studio is busier than ever.
“It’s hard to believe that setting up the booth all those years has brought in enough money for more bags of groceries than you can count and paying college tuitions for four children.”
The festival is held twice each year, in June and September. The festival’s fall edition will be Sept. 28-30, Heather McIntyre, the chamber’s executive director, said Saturday.
McIntyre said 192 vendors were set up this weekend. She predicted that nearly 10,000 patrons would pass through the gates between Friday and Sunday.
The festival, held at Sam Michaels Park on Job Corps Road, opens Sunday at 10 a.m. and runs to 5 p.m.
It’s the chamber’s biggest fundraiser of the year, McIntyre said. After expenses, the chamber supports area nonprofit and charitable agencies, she said.
Chris Skovira of Hot Springs, Va., brought his Home Fields Inc. professional sports stadium models to the festival for the second year. He fashions them with layered fiber board decorated with photographic images of actual sports arenas — from modern stadiums such as Camden Yards to artists renderings of long-gone venues such as Memorial Stadium.
“I grew up in Baltimore. I love the Orioles and the Ravens,” he said.
Greg Cromer of Stephens City, Va., sat surrounded by hundreds of 16-inch-by-20-inch aerial photographs of towns, homes, schools and colleges, and commercial and industrial images.
He plies the skies over Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware, photographing subjects he hopes will tempt festival-goers and online customers.
“My goal is to shoot every town in those five states,” he said. “I started in 2008 on a five-year mission. Unlike Google Earth, which photographs straight down, I try to find a beauty spot in my photos. My favorite is to fly higher than the mountains so I can see miles away.”
Sisters Patty Burt of Berryville, Va., and Shaila McCall of St. Charles, Md., were walking between tents. Both were carrying bags with their purchases.
“This is our third year here,” Burt said. “We like this festival and its odd and unusual crafts.”
“There’s a lot of artwork and jewelry,” McCall said. “It just depends on what you like.”