Artisan's Fair a hit despite weather
Area craft fans braved heavy rains Sunday, Aug. 10, to attend the annual Artisan's Fair at Crosslake's Historic Log Village, viewing and purchasing handmade items from wood carvers, basket weavers, potters, quilters and more.
"It is just a fun event," museum manager Jo Bierman said. "Unfortunately the weather didn't help us out this year so our numbers will be down, but I think people really enjoy it."
The fair, in its 22nd year, saw more than 35 artisans spend their day under water-resistant tents demonstrating their crafts and selling their merchandise.
Highlighting those artisans was 95-year-old Walter Grittner of Roseville, who has practiced chip carving - a form of wood carving that uses a combination of geometric shapes to create intricate designs - since he was 18.
Chip carving, a Germanic trade that came about around the fifth century, came to the United States with Scandinavian immigrants around the turn of the century, but disappeared around the time of the Great Depression before experiencing a resurgence in the 1970s.
"Nobody - and I mean nobody - was doing this kind of work in the mid-'30s," Grittner said. "People saw it as something completely new and different in the '70s, but this craft is over 1,000 years old."
In his fourth year at the Artisan's Fair, Grittner came back due to popular demand. Because of his age, he has scaled back the amount of touring he does, but his daughter, Elaine, insisted he return to Crosslake.
"It has been satisfactory for me because I have sold enough in other years to make the 300-mile (round-trip) drive worthwhile. I have gotten a nice reception, and I don't find any negatives here," he said.
Planning for the Artisan's Fair begins in January each year, as the fair's committee sends invitations to the craftsmen shortly after its winter meeting. At the start of summer, the committee seeks volunteers willing to work hard.
"(The fair) can be overwhelming for us working," Bierman said. "We are all so busy that we don't really get to enjoy it."
While the volunteers stay busy throughout the day, the customers and vendors are quick to express their gratitude - so much so that they all seem interested in coming back next year.
"The volunteers for this whole organization are just wonderful," said artisan Sharon Larson, who weaves baskets from pine needles. "No organization can make it without volunteers, and these ones do so much work. It is really great to see."