Squash art and more to be on display at the 49th Annual Harvest FestivalÂ® Original Art and Craft Show, coming to Ventura County Fairgrounds From October 1 to 3. Pictured: Decorative gourds by artist Camarillo Patricia Lelie
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
Ceramics and souvenirs, blown glass and body care products, holiday decorations and handmade jewelry. All of this and more will be available at the 49th Annual Harvest FestivalÂ® Original Art and Craft Show, back for 2021 (after being canceled last year) and taking place at the Ventura County Fairgrounds October 1-3. . It’s one of the county’s largest craft markets, with dozens of artists and artisans from across the United States setting up shop to offer their unique, handmade goods. Tickets cost $ 4 to $ 9, can be purchased at the door or online, and are good for the entire weekend (make sure you have a stamp if you plan to return). Children 12 and under are free.
For many of us, the term “arts and crafts” conjures up images of woodcarvings, quilts, knit tea comforters, and decor with a rustic touch. This stuff will definitely be on display at the fairgrounds this weekend. But if your taste leans more towards the modern or the eclectic, don’t worry! Over 24,000 original items will be for sale, and the selection is diverse. There will be some for everyone.
Creators from across the country are drawn to this family-run, managed festival, which stops in places as far north as Sacramento, as far south as Del Mar in San Diego County, and even as far as Las Vegas. While it’s in our corner, however, it will also be a showcase for several Ventura County creators.
At the more harvested end of the spectrum is gourd artist Patricia Lelie de Camarillo, who has been practicing the medium for almost 20 years.
âIn 2002, I was at an upscale craft fair in Santa Monica,â she recalls.
She saw a large, beautiful pot that she loved on sight – and was shocked to find that “it was so light!”
It was an expensive piece, but she couldn’t resist. She’s been hooked ever since.
In 2008, Lelie saw an ad in the newspaper for a local squash club and decided to join. âI have always had an artistic side.
Gourds-as-canvas really sparked her creativity, and after taking a number of classes and reading about art (she still references The Complete Gourd Carving Book, by Jim Widess and Ginger Summit), she began teaching on her own. She even sold several pieces through an arts organization, and today Patricia Lelie’s originals can be found all over the United States and even in France.
She used to get her water bottles from a farm in Arizona. After setting up a garden at the back, she discovered that the squash began to sprout from the seeds removed during the carving process. âThe gourds went everywhere! “
So she had a lot of raw material to play with and did some amazing things: finely carved gourds of geometric shapes, painted with colorful scenes, decorated with interesting embellishments. No two are the same, and most are very different from each other.
âThat’s all that strikes me at the moment,â says Lelie. âI saw something in a magazine and I was like, ‘Oh, I can do that with a gourd! “”
Right now, she says, âI have gourds sticking out of my ears. So she decided to get really literal with this experience by turning broken gourd pieces into earrings. She found them surprisingly suitable as jewelry.
âThe gourds break into really interesting pieces,â she explains. “[The earrings] are comfortable, extremely light and very easy to wear.
âIt’s so much fun breaking gourds! “
Something that might appeal to the most modern eyes at this year’s festival will be the sportswear from California Cut. Super soft t-shirts and hoodies, groovy hats and even cool tote bags. . . if you want to lean into the cozy, laid-back and seaside vibe of SoCal, this stand is for you.
âWe’re going for the California coastal lifestyle,â confirms Clark Song, who runs California Cut with his wife Shonna.
The Song seek the softest, highest quality material for their clothing. But it’s the unique designs made by Song himself that really set these products apart. Mermaids, waves, ocean life, surfboards. . . all with a vintage or Art Nouveau touch, and all paying homage to Ventura County.
âI take a lot of inspiration from the ocean environment here,â notes Song, who lives in the Pierpont de Ventura neighborhood. “I consider my creations to be love letters to this beautiful city.”
Song’s background is in animation and visual effects, and he has worked on numerous films and video games. His long and impressive resume includes The Matrix Reloaded and Men in black 3, and animation features such as Kung Fu Panda and Shrek the third.
âBeing in the movie business can be fun,â Song says, âbut as an artist you have limited autonomy to make your own creative vision.â
He and Shonna moved to Ventura in 2013 and started California Cut to support the family (including two children, 11 and 7) both financially and creatively. It’s a two-person operation, with Song taking care of creation and production. The designs are all his own, and he also does all the screen printing, using a manual press.
âEverything is done the old-fashioned way,â he says.
California Cut has tried to be community driven in more than just the designs. T-shirts happily printed by The Songs with a special #VenturaStrong design for a fundraiser after the Thomas fire.
âWe helped raise a few thousand dollars for the city,â Song notes proudly.
Additionally, he channeled his own anxiety about COVID-19 into the creation of personal protective equipment.
“During the pandemic, when the state first closed completely, I just got involved in making an effective face mask.” The Songs acquired sheets of polypropylene, the same material used in N95 masks, to create something similar. They donated more than half of the masks they made.
âIt was very therapeutic,â he says. âIt has helped me cope with the stress of the pandemic. “
He also has a fun vaccine-centric design to show off at this year’s Harvest Festival – one of his favorite places to sell his clothes.
âThis will be our third participation; we absolutely love it! â says the song. âIt’s a very collegial environment. Salespeople have a lot of respect for each other; that’s nice. And the customers seem genuinely interested.
More than just a store
Buying handmade items is of course the highlight, but the Harvest Festival promises more than sellers.
Dealers will offer a variety of on-site refreshments, while specialty food vendors will have edible treats (jams, salsas, honey products, etc.) that you can purchase as a gift or consume at home. Several manufacturers will organize demonstrations and buskers will entertain the public. There will be a children’s area and competitions will be held throughout the weekend.
If you want to save some money and support a good cause, bring a donation voucher. Project Understanding, which provides food, accommodation and tutoring to those in need, will get the donated items; the donor will save $ 2 on the admission price.
It should be three cheerful, clean and family friendly days. Find handmade specialties, chat with artists, and spend your money on creative entrepreneurs rather than big box retailers – a bountiful harvest, indeed!
The Harvest FestivalÂ® Original Art and Craft Show takes place October 1-3 at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Blvd., Ventura. For times, tickets and more information visit Harvestfestival.com/ventura.