Unique sights, sounds draw crowds at Long’s Park craft fest – LancasterOnline

Every artist is unique.

But at the Long’s Park Art & Craft Festival, the odder the sights — and sounds — emanating from the artist’s tent, the bigger the crowds.

Some of the largest throngs surrounded Josh Brooke Cote’s stall, where steel wire sculptures of rabbits, monkeys and other creatures stopped passers-by in their tracks.

“It takes roughly a month to create the largest pieces,” said Cote, of Bakersville, N.C., who uses only needle-nosed pliers to craft his work. One large rabbit required a full mile of wire.

“We’ve been to a lot of art shows, but we’ve never seen anything like this,” said Lydia Hammer of Villanova.

And — music to the artist’s ear — “We’re actually going to buy a piece,” she said.

The renowned show, in its 37th year, has “become a Lancaster phenomenon,” said festival operations director Cindi Hendricks. But people tend to forget that it’s a fund-raiser, she said, designed to support the Long’s Park Summer Music Series.

Some 250 volunteers worked for months to ensure a seamless event, she said. That included carefully planning the location of the artists’ kiosks — “Shade and sun makes a difference to many of the artists,” she said — to animal control.

That is, sometimes skunks wander too close to the exhibits and have to be shooed away before they can spray the merchandise. “We had two this morning,” said Tim Ardinger, the festival’s artistic director. But Long’s Park staff “discovered they don’t like rain, so they got a bucket of water,” flicked it at the creatures and off they scurried, without incident.

This year’s festival invited some 210 artists from more than 30 states, and also featured live music and local food and libations. The event is carefully planned to offer something for everyone — “We don’t want 100 ceramists or 50 jewelers,” said Hendricks, “and we want a variety of price points — not everyone comes in with $1,000 to spend,” she said.

Some did, and there were plenty of unique creations to choose from.

Near the festival entrance, Douglas Durkee’s “infinity art furnishings” packed his tent most of the afternoon. His “infinity” mirrors, clocks and coffee table contain electric lights placed at intervals in a refractive chamber, creating what looked like tunnels of light that changed depending on the angle of the piece.

Victor and Cathy England of Lancaster bought an octagonal mirror. “I’ve seen similar things, but this is really eye-catching,” said Victor, who plans to use it to illuminate a hallway.

A few dozen stalls away, Archie Smith of Mt. Pleasant, North Carolina, stood at the mouth of his tent and played “Amazing Grace” on a “bowed psaltery,” a dulcimer-like instrument that produces an ethereal, haunting sound. “It began as a hobby,” said Smith of his intricately inlaid pieces. “I always enjoyed woodworking, but really wasn’t interested in making furniture.”

Across the aisle, Ed Kidera’s “Steam Emporium” drew curious crowds, gaping at his steampunk-inspired creations — everything from iPod speakers made to look like old gramophones to zeppelin-esque airships that utilized old tanks from B-17 bombers for the body, with other items made of steel, copper or brass welded to the chassis.

Kidera said the crowds were a little thin Friday. But, he noted, this was his fifth Long’s Park Arts & Craft Festival.

And, perhaps, not his last.

“These people, they really know how to throw a show,” he said.