Photo and story by Luke Furman for The Beaver County Times
BEAVER — Crafters, food vendors, townspeople and visitors filled Beaver’s three central parks Saturday for the 39th annual Garrison Day.
The event, named after Fort McIntosh’s former military garrison, allows artists to display and sell their creations and food vendors to bring regional tastes and smells into the heart of the town.
“It’s refreshing to get so much support for small businesses,” Susan Hart said.
Susan and her husband, Charlie Hart, own Heart’s in the Attic, a Washington County shop that sells “primitive country” wood decor and fabric items. Saturday marked the second time they had exhibited their craftwork at Garrison Day after an 18-year gap.
“In quality of crafters, there’s more variety now and there’s always a great buying crowd,” Hart said.
Many other sellers and attendees commented on the size and scope of the event, as well, saying this year’s event eclipsed former years.
“There’s a lot more people here now. I don’t know if they got the word out more,” said Natalie Herold, owner of Herold’s Original Kettle Corn.
She and her husband, Brian Herold, have sold kettle corn at Garrison Day for the past 10 years.
In addition to kettle corn from Herold’s two booths, Garrison Day attendees could also purchase other festival delicacies such as roasted peanuts, funnel cake, gyros, cheesecake, cupcakes, lemonade and snow cones.
Sisters Kathryn and Elizabeth Sewall of Beaver also attested to the growth of this year’s festivities.
“It’s the biggest and busiest one we’ve ever seen. It’s nice to get to see what everybody has out,” Kathryn said. “People watching is probably the best part.”
“I really like the energy and the community coming together and enjoying it,” Elizabeth said of Saturday’s sunny afternoon.
Quay Square’s diagonal walkway housed several tents selling niche musical apparel and instruments.
Diane Mallow of Kent, Ohio, fashioned studded purses featuring famous musical album covers by the likes of the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and more. She said she prefers to make purses of albums she likes, but also performs the three-day labor process for popular albums, too.
“I found out about (Garrison Day) because I have friends who have done this show for six or seven years,” Mallow said.
Just a few stands down, Jim Circle of Under the Tree Guitars demonstrated one of his handmade cigar box guitars for a prospective buyer. It would be the fourth one he sold Saturday.
“I saw this video about kids in South Africa making guitars out of only lumber and oil cans and whatever they could find. I bought one and started seeing cigar box guitars. After I built the first kit, I said that I could do this by myself,’” Circle said.
He equated a top-of-the-line guitar costing around $1,000 new to a top-of-the-line cigar box guitar costing around $250, with all the same playing capabilities.
“Me and my friends used to sit around and play guitars, and now we sit around and play cigar box guitars,” Circle said.
For the actual music, Daniel Clark, who has attended the event for the past 25 years, served as deejay from the Irvine Park gazebo. He said the playlist consisted of “oldies, rock ’n’ roll, ’70s music and country,” as Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” played through the speakers.
Several clubs and charitable groups also set up tents, including the Beaver County Humane Society, Beaver Valley Woodcarvers and Ready Yourself Youth Ranch, which brought a pony and a miniature horse near the gazebo for children and animal lovers to pet. The ranch pair rescued animals with youth going through difficulties, Zoe Peffer, a staff member, said.
The humane society also ran a booth in effort to raise money through T-shirt and raffle sales, as well as to advertise its animals to find them a “forever home,” volunteer Lynn Daudet said.
“We’re thankful for the 31 businesses from Aliquippa, Beaver and Chippewa who donated baskets,” Daudet said.
Beaver Valley Woodcarvers displayed carved, burned and turned woodwork, along with a “friendship cane” with a piece made by each member.
Tom McKenzie, president of the group, echoed the sentiment that Garrison Day “gets better and bigger every year.”
Other stands included ones selling dog collars, olive oil, a staggering amount of crafts, plants and wooden furniture.
In his roughly 18th year of working the event, officer Greg Kryder of the Beaver Police Department said the event was “very relaxed” with problems usually being medical but “nothing major.”
Susan McKim of Lawrence County returned to this year’s Garrison Day after a five-year break.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “It expanded a lot since the last time. We worked our way down one side, and now we’re doing the other.”