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Berkeley Springs Apple Butter Festival

This past weekend, I participated as a vendor in the 41st Apple Butter Festival in Berkeley Springs, WV. There was an incredible turn-out; my booth was very busy all day, and I didn’t get a chance to work on my latest creepy Victorian kitty portrait** (for the upcoming Down the Rabbit Hole auction)!

**That is one sign that a show went well ~ I always paint during slow periods! hehe Some shows are very slow, and my painting is halfway finished by the time it ends. :P

TaraFly Cat Art Booth

I want to personally thank everybody who came out to visit me! I had customers from Fairfax and Winchester, VA, Georgetown and Baltimore, MD, and Lancaster, PA… as well as local shoppers from Martinsburg, Paw Paw, and Berkeley.
This was my first year selling my artwork at Apple Butter, and I had very few expectations for this show, but the reception I received surpassed them all. :)

TaraFly Cat Art Booth at Apple Butter Festival

I wasn’t sure which of my products would be popular with this new market, so I made a bit of everything ~ and a bit of everything sold, from $1.00 ACEO cards to framed prints. Dr. Who, Wizard of Oz, cats reading books, and Phantom of the Opera were my biggest sellers across the board.

On Friday afternoon, I took an hour away from printing prep to redesign my price signage ~ I made these signs using an image of an open book, added the text and clip-art in Photoshop, and laminated them for durability. Then I added satin “bookmark” ribbons to attach them to my displays. I really like how they turned out. :)

Faux book laminated signs

Vendors were able to set-up on Friday evening after 5:00PM, and although we were losing daylight quickly (some people continued their set-up after dark!), the experience was less frazzled than my typical same-day show set-up. I left the tent and displays overnight, and returned early each morning with my products to stock, as there was no security after 7:00PM in the park.

Festival tents along sidewalk

My reliable little “clown car” carried the tent, tables, ladder, displays, and several boxes of merchandise. Most of my fellow vendors predictably brought U-Hauls and a team of people to help set-up. LOL

Packing my booth into the Chevy Cobalt

I had a lovely spot located on the parade route, in a well-trafficked area… even though my ears were ringing on Saturday morning, as the squealing sirens of firetrucks and the Berkeley High marching band passed a few yards from me.

It rained Saturday morning, and the temperature was chilly, but the sidewalks were crowded. Berkeley Springs is a very loyal community!

Apple Butter Festival Berkeley Springs WV

I wasn’t able to explore the festival thoroughly, as savvy shoppers arrived earlier than the official start time to scout out new and favorite booths. Usually vendors are able to wander about before opening, checking out their friends’ and competitors’ tables, and making their own purchases.

On Sunday, I arrived 2 hours early, and people were already walking into my booth while I unpacked the car! I remained sequestered inside my tent all day; on Saturday, a friend stopped by to relieve me for 10 minutes to use the ladies’ room.
Sunday, however, it was even busier and I was alone…. so no breaks for me. :(

Next year, I will need to recruit a booth-helper, because my poor funnel cake was cold before I could eat it. Hehe
Have you ever eaten a cold funnel cake? Like a wax candle coated in powdered sugar. :P

Apple Butter Festival Parade

Not to complain, I did have virtually a front row seat to the music and activities, even though I couldn’t *see* them through my tent walls. I enjoyed listening to the live bluegrass musicians playing behind me on the bandstand, and the hog-calling contestants vying for awards. ;)
We heard “The Voice of the Festival”, Jeannie Mozier, providing commentary on each event ~ from the mustache competition to the egg toss.


Berkeley Springs High School marching band

Watching the students marching in the parade brought back many memories of Homecomings and festivals long past.

My family moved to Berkeley Springs from Bowie, MD, in 1994 ~ the summer before my freshman year of high school. I attended several years’ of Apple Butter festivals as “a resident”, and I volunteered with the Drama Club’s fundraising booth by selling raffle tickets. It always rains on Apple Butter weekend!

Saturday morning rain at Apple Butter Festival BS WV

Over the weekend, I ran into several former co-workers and classmates that I haven’t seen in over a decade, and many of them remembered me as if we had been passing notes in Mr. Unger’s American History class last Friday.

Several were surprised to see me in my new role as “Crazy Cat Artist”, and understandably so, since my teenage self had minimal interest in fine art, and my feline alter-ego was locked in the attic. That little 8-year-old girl who believed she was a cat, who didn’t care what other people thought, grew into a sixteen-year-old obsessed with her social life and drama (on stage and off).

By contrast, my childhood Bowie friends remember me the way I truly was! Ask any of them to describe me, and they would humor you with tales of how I “hissed” at my enemies, recited T.S. Eliot’s cat poems, drew pictures of flying cats in art class, and presented my 5th grade Egyptian project on cat worship. :)
My eighth grade year, I was unanimously voted to portray the school mascot (a cougar)!

Cat Art booth by TaraFly

Moving to a new school, in a different state, granted me a second chance to cast aside my former reputation as “the cat girl” and become anyone I wanted to be, and although I couldn’t completely disguise the fact that I was an oddball, I doubt anyone realized the depth of my secret cat obsession.

The years I spent living in rural West Virginia were filled with teenage angst, and a burning desire to return to “The City”. As an adult, however, I can now begin to appreciate my family’s vision to live a quiet, simplier, and unrestricted life, surrounded by mountains rather than urban decay, situated half a mile from your nearest neighbors ~ the kind who welcome you into town with homemade brownies, and invite you to BINGO Night at the Fire Hall. ;)

Southern belles riding covered wagon in parade.

Maybe there is a 10-acre plot of woodland, and a little cottage, with my name on it. I will plant a wild garden, raise a dozen cats, and hang a sign directing wayfarers to my backyard cat portrait studio.

In the meantime, I will definitely apply for next year’s Apple Butter festival. :)

Entrance to Berkeley Springs Park, Apple Butter Festival

Tara Fly

About Tara Fly

A Crazy Cat Lady ... who divides her time between painting portraits of cats dressed in period costumes, watching BBC mini-series, growing weeds and wildflowers, and baking pumpkin pies seasoned with cat hair. Would you like some fur-flavoured coffee?

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