Photography provided by Wheat Ridge Herb Festival
It’s rare and profound when we can learn from artists and craftspeople firsthand, face-to-face, in this day of instant information and delivery by drone.
Watching in wonder as they create a stained-glass window, weave a basket or wax eloquent about bees. To experience a whole community of these friendly experts and walk away with proof of their passion in the form of their work is special indeed. That the Wheat Ridge Herb Festival takes place in the beautiful, rolling hills of Adams County in autumn really moves the needle on the magic meter.
For the last nine years on the second weekend in October, Herb and Kim Erwin – along with their son Brad – have created this unique opportunity with a growing family of vendors and visitors. Kim shared how their festival is special.
“What makes our festival unique is the quality of our vendors and the variety that they provide. We have everything from blacksmiths, to stained glass makers, folks who make baskets and pottery, some jewelers, antique dealers. They offer a kind of diversity you don’t usually find at your typical arts and crafts fair or even antique shows. A lot of them demonstrate what they make. We have one girl who weaves – I think she started with us with she was 14 and has been with us for eight years. She brings her loom and makes table runners or whatever she’s working on. It really fascinates people.”
A potter will be throwing clay on his wheel and they have a carpenter who selects hand-hewed lumber and actually builds a log cabin.
“One fellow raises his own bees and they’ve had some award-winning honey here. He shares how they extract the honey or get different varieties with anyone who is interested. One couple grow herbs at their farm and have flavor-infused honey, teas and all kinds of herbal remedies, salves and ointments. She’s written books about using herbs for different things.”
A purveyor who offers unusual plants from his greenhouse in Athens is a “walking encyclopedia,” according to Kim. “I look for vendors who are going to be able to give our guests a little bit of education, more knowledge than they would typically get. A lot of people aren’t coming just to buy something. They want to know more about it. How it was made, how it was produced, all the steps up to the finished product.”
When the Erwins began, they brought together almost 70 vendors. They’ve added nearly 100 since that first festival.
“Another thing that makes us unique is that the festival takes place on a working farm not far from Greater Cincinnati. People come out and are struck by how pretty it is, how peaceful. I think that everyone that lives and works in and around a city seems to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. They don’t take the time to slow down and breathe.”
Taking the time to slow down seems to be a lost art itself. Breathing not just out of force of habit or necessity, but to really take in life and all its beauty. Learning something new while making deeper connections with the people behind the products we buy offers a step in the right direction. The Wheat Ridge Herb Festival offers a perfect destination.
The Wheat Ridge Herb Festival is located at 817 Tater Ridge Road, West Union, OH 45693. For more information, call 937.544.8252.