Another successful Fibre Festival wraps up
Eunice Rennehan (left) of Barrington and Christina Crowell of Shelburne participate in a quilting seminar with Karen Neary on Friday. The fourth Fibre Arts Festival wrapped up in Amherst over the weekend. Darrell Cole – Amherst Daily News
AMHERST – Christina Crowell had no problem driving five hours to attend the Fibre Arts Festival. She did it last year, and she has already made plans to come next year.
“I’m a member of a quilting guild in Shelburne and there were never any question about coming to Amherst to learn from Karen Neary,” Crowell said as she participated in a quilting seminar at Trinity-St. Stephen’s United Church on Friday. “Last year we had a few members come to the festival, this year we had nine come and next year we’ll have more than that. We wouldn’t miss it.”
It’s a story festival organizers have been hearing time and time again as the fourth edition of the Fibre Arts Festival wraps up. From small beginnings in 2008, with 10 sessions and a couple hundred participants, there were about 50 activities this year with as many as 2,000 taking part in one or more sessions.
“We’re just overwhelmed at how things have gone this year. There’s so much energy and enthusiasm,” festival co-ordinator Beth Smith said from the Fibre Arts headquarters at Mrs. Pugsley’s Emporium. “We’ve probably had more than 700 people come through the headquarters and the feedback we’ve been getting has been very positive and quite constructive.”
Festival organizers are finding many of those coming to the festival have been hear before and they’re hearing many of them are coming back again next year and plan to bring friends.
Smith said it’s difficult to judge the economic impact the festival has had on the town, but she said the hotels have had strong bookings all week and the restaurants have been bustling.
It has also been good for retailers. Don Cormier of Dayle’s Department Store said he has seen an increase in traffic, similar to what they would see during a major sporting event like a minor hockey tournament.
“We have a lot of people coming in to shop in the morning and then leave for a few hours to go to their events and they’re coming back later in the day,” Cormier said. “We have a small fabrics department and we’ve seen a bump in traffic as people come in to stock up on their supplies.”
Deanne Fitzpatrick, who helped start the festival four years ago, said her rug-hooking studio has been extremely busy all week with people coming into the store to see her hooked rugs and to purchase supplies.
“We’ve been busy all day, every day,” said Fitzpatrick, who conducted a rug-hooking seminar with writer Sherree Fitch that attracted participants from as far as British Columbia, Missouri and Arkansas. “There are lots of people coming in from out of town and quite a few from outside town. Some are coming in for a day trip while others are coming in for a day or two.”
Fitzpatrick said she was told by a bed and breakfaster operator that he’s booked for the festival through 2013.
Amherst’s arts, culture and heritage co-ordinator Andrew MacGregor is amazed at what the festival has accomplished.
“It just goes to show what a small group of people can do when they keep things at a grassroots level and are passionate about what they do,” he said. “It’s amazing how everyone takes care of their own responsibility and makes it work under one big umbrella that is the festival.”
As the fourth festival wraps up, Fitzpatrick said members of the organizing committee will be getting together in the coming weeks to begin planning for next year’s event. She is excited to see the festival growing, but said organizers to want to get too big too fast. Instead they want to focus on offering a quality program that would attract the most people.