By MARTY FINLEY
The 53rd annual Vine Grove Autumn Daze rolled into Optimist Park on Friday night, bringing homemade crafts and entertainment to the city.
Rain showers thinned the crowd, but several residents were undeterred as they perused the vendors and reconnected with old friends.
Radcliff resident Shannon Goldsmith moved up and down the aisles, her stroller lined with a number of locally canned jams and jellies sold by sisters.
“They’re really good,” she said.
Goldsmith was in search of handmade hats and scarves for children, particularly those depicting famous characters. She also planned to return Saturday so her kids could enjoy rides and bouncy houses.
Vendors who set up on the first night of the festival came prepared, hoisting tarps or plastic over their booths.
Sherry Taylor, who has set up at several festivals around the state, develops authentic wood products. The wood used is taken from the family farm or bought elsewhere in the state, she said. Her sprawling display in Vine Grove included layers of meticulously rendered bowls of all shapes and sizes.
All of Taylor’s bowls are food safe and are sought by customers for Christmas or birthday gifts, she said. The more popular selections are oversized bowls used for fruit or other food arrangements.
Some of the family’s creations can be found all over the United States and the world, Taylor said. She knows her works have crossed the ocean into England and France, among other countries.
Elroy Cecil lives near the park and has been attending the festival since its inception. He described himself as a strong backer of Vine Grove who was eagerly looking forward to the Bluegrass Festival next weekend at Optimist Park.
Cecil was browsing Autumn Daze on its first night and soon corralled some friends for conversation.
“Really, it gives you a chance to see good friends you haven’t seen in a while,” he said.
Rachel Ritchie coordinated a booth at the festival to support her dream of building a Fun for Everyone playground in Vine Grove for all children to enjoy, including those with disabilities.
Rachel, a Vine Grove Elementary student, was selling lemonade at the festival and accumulated a wealth of items for a silent auction held Saturday after Rachel rode in the parade as grand marshal.
She said if everyone in Hardin County gave $1, her dream could be realized. Her family has raised more than $20,000 since launching the effort.
“The community has definitely supported the project,” said Jeff Ritchie, Rachel’s father. “They keep bringing in donations.”