Story and photo by Patricia Beech –
The grand finale and showpiece of Adams County’s fall festival season, the Olde Thyme Herb Fair and Harvest Festival, begins this weekend.
Herb and Kim Erwin host the annual event at their home on Grindstone Farm, at 817 Tater Ridge Road in the heart of Amish country.
Only days before the festival is set to begin, the Erwins seemed relaxed as they go about the business of preparing for the thousands of people who this weekend will descend on their 110 acre farm.
In their eighth season, Kim admits she’s become much less anxious about producing the fair. “The first year I worried whether it would go over well,” she said. “But, it’s become a little easier each year.”
She does make it look easy. Even though the fair has grown substantially over the past eight years, Erwin says timing, experience and organization are key to a successful festival.
“I work almost all year preparing for the festival,” she says, looking over a wagon load of colorful pumpkins. “We start advertising in December and I’m already planning vendors for next year.”
Erwin’s vendors are the heart of the festival. Spread across a five-acre field, row upon row of white canvas tents house high-end artisans and crafters demonstrating their unique skills and their original handmade goods.
“I think the vendors who make and demonstrate their work are more inclined to sell stuff,” says Kim, who admits the vendor’s ability to interact with customers is a major consideration when she recruits them for the fair.
Her insistence on recruiting only top-of-the-line vendors has gained her a reputation for “being hard to work with” she says. “That’s because I have rules, and I don’t allow anything made in China to be sold at the festival, and that’s hard to do in this day and age.”
More than 150 vendors will be featured at the festival, which last year drew over 30,000 people to the Wheat Ridge area.
Herbal specialist will offer medicinal teas, soaps, lotions, herbal rubs, blends, and butters. Metal working artisans will display their unique yard art. Wood crafters will show hand made bowls, toys, boxes, birdhouses, racks, and walking sticks. Pottery makers, jewelers, quilters, weavers, and knitters will have their wares available for shoppers.
New vendors and artisans this year will feature wooden puzzle jewelry boxes; cutting boards and rolling pins made with different types of wood strips; herbs and essential oils; Teddy Bears in the style of Steiff antique bears; drift wood art; silver inlay art and jewelry; spoon jewelry; industrial antiques; and a special demonstration on the history and development of electricity. The newest food vendor will be serving Farm Style Beans and Cornbread, grilled, stacked portabella mushrooms, breakfast hash, and apple crisp for dessert.
In addition to a variety of vendors, the Erwins will open their over-stuffed, “antique barn” for visitors to shop through or experience nostalgic “grandma-had-one-just-like-it” moments.
Entertainment for the event will be provided by The Hitchhikers from Wilmington College and the Kinner Express from Clermont County.
Festival times are Friday, Oct. 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 8, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 9, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.