By DARIAN ESWINE
The sound of Jazz filled the grounds of the Howard Steamboat Museum as people browsed through different booths for the 21st annual Victorian Chautauqua Festival last weekend.
“I like when they have the music going, plus it’s just a great location because it’s a museum,” said Eddie Rae Lomax, who had a booth on site selling jewelry called Blue Ridge Designs. Lomax has had a presence at the event for 10 years.
Chautauqua, meaning “get-together,” took place last weekend and live music played throughout the day Saturday, including the Jamey Aebersold Jazz group and The Finish Line Thoroughbred Quartet. All of the booths displayed a variety of handmade artisan crafts.
“This is one of my favorite festivals. The hours are good, and they really run a great show,” said Winifred Costello, who sold olive oil soap at her booth. “It’s well-organized, with nice parking and nice music.”
Costello began making soaps and scrubs after being taught by her great-grandmother. She said she enjoys the festival because of the people returning every year.
“It’s nice to have repeat customers, even if the booth is moved from year to year, they always find you,” she said.
Serena Schamp, from Bloomington, came down for her fifth year at the event. Her booth, Dip Chick Dips sells dips and soups.
“I love it. I actually had someone come up to me and ask me about [the festival] because they had never heard of it,” she said. “It’s the community’s best kept secret.”
Although Costello, Lomax and Schamp have had booths before, others were experiencing their first Chautauqua at the museum.
“I make all hand-made wood products such as pepper mills … cutting boards, all out of local wood,” said Cory Smithson of his booth, Hot off the Lathe. “It’s a nice crowd.”
Bob Capshew, of Capshew Cellars, also set up his first booth this year, although he attends different farmers’ markets and various shows from time to time.
“I love the museum and I love the people. I’m looking forward to just talking to more people,” he said.
Capshew makes herbal vinegars from scratch, ranging from rosemary vinegar to lime. He made wine for more than 30 years and then began converting the wine to vinegar.
“One thing I find interesting is looking at the process from the 1890s — it’s using the same process. It’s very unique,” Capshew said.
Those in attendance perused the booths or stopped at the Victorian cafe set up on the opposite side of the entrance. Some were locals, but others came for specific reasons. Leslie Baim from Northern Indiana attended because her friend had a booth selling syrups.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what my friend has,” she said. “I also plan on going to the Chautauqua in Madison in September, too.”
The soft notes of music and the people bustling about helped to bring artisans together and remind the community of the river city’s history. The event is the largest annual fundrasier for the Howard Steamboat Museum.
“I’ve never been to this festival, but I love all of the different arts and crafts,” Baim said. “There’s a very good chance I will return.”