Aside from hosting some of the area’s most popular events — high school proms, company parties, weddings — Hilltop Designs is known throughout the area for supporting authentic crafters and highlighting the works of local artists, especially with its biggest event of the year, the Appalachian Artisans Fest.
The festival, which runs October 3-5 at Hilltop Designs in Winchester, will feature artisans and demonstrators representing all kinds of handmade creations — from beads, to ice cream and candy, clothing, quilts, organics, furniture, stained glass, beauty products and more.
Hours will be: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday Oct. 5.
Antique and retail exhibitors will also be present.
The event kicks off Friday, Oct. 3 with a dinner show while Steve Free and his band play some musical entertainment. Also on this night, the public can come see a “sneak peek” of this year’s returning and new artists, crafts, retailers, produce, home decor, and hay sculptures, which is a new addition this year.
The “What the Hay?” hay sculpture contest is open to all high schools or organizations, and those groups can earn a cash prize should their sculptures win.
“I am so proud to be able to sponsor and incorporate this Hay Sculpture Contest with my Appalachian Artisans Fest the first weekend in October,” said Jo Hall, of Hilltop Designs. “Working with students and parents during the prom season has made me aware that sometimes money needs to be raised for many different reasons and events. I hope these students and parents realize how much money they can actually raise by getting involved in this contest. By getting the community involved I would think any school or organization could raise well over $2,000.”
The sculpture must be made out of hay and straw, although chicken wire, paint, and small farm or gardening tools may be used for props or decorative pieces. Hay sculptures will be assembled on the Hilltop Designs property in eyesight of state Route 32 and must be completed by midnight on Sept. 30. The hay sculptures must fit inside a 20’ by 20’ space.
There is no entry fee for participating, but Hall asks that once you commit to participating, please follow through. Sculpture entry forms can be found on the event’s website.
“Voting is done by money donations and only during the festival hours,” Hall said. “The entry with the most money at the end of the festival on Oct. 5 will be the first place winner. At 5 p.m. on Oct. 5 the winner will be announced and, in addition to the monies that entry raised, an additional $1,000 will be awarded. All participants keep the money they raise.”
Each hay sculpture entry is required to make their own voting box, which will be placed inside the main hall. Voting hours will be during the festival, except on Sunday Oct. 5, when voting will run 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Many yearly favorites will be returning for this year’s event, including the Grassy Run Historical Arts Village, who will demonstrate how life was in the 1700-1800s, including the making of rope or how to cook meals over an open fire. Also returning will be the hay maze, Native American teepee, petting zoo, the Adams/Brown Recycling “Green Machine,” and a toy tractor and farm display by award-winning Jim Gorman of Hillsboro.
Entertainment for the weekend, in addition to Steve Free, will be the Fancy Free Cloggers, the West Union High School Steel Drum Band, and Jay and Kris Fetters of Sounds Unlimited.
For more information, visit the festival’s website at www.appalachianmountainartisansfest.com or call (937) 695-5545.
Enjoy great food, fun and entertainment at this outdoor/indoor, educational and family-friendly weekend. Hilltop Designs is located at 9764 Tricounty Road, Winchester, OH, 45697.