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FestivALL has 'made sense of the madness'

By Megan Workman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two balloons -- one gold and one pink -- sat on top of 5-year-old Hannah Nutter's red hair as she colored a butterfly mask at the Children's Art Fair Saturday.

The balloons flowed down her back to resemble hair like Rapunzel, a look the Summersville resident said she requested from a balloon maker.

Thousands of people gathered across the city to enjoy the last weekend of the sixth annual FestivALL.

The Children's Art Fair and Kanawha County Public Library Street Fair-- hosted on Capitol Street in front of the Kanawha Public Library -- featured activities kids of all ages could enjoy, said Karen Villanueva-Matkovich, as her nephew Nicholas Fultz, 5, of Beckley, got a temporary panther tattoo.

"The activities are good for children because it gives them something neat and different to do and they're also learning," Villanueva-Matkovich said. "We thought we'd only be here for an hour but we've been here much longer because they're so interested."

Young children formed sand castles in baby pools full of sand while others drew pictures outside the library with sidewalk chalk.

The sounds of laughter and applause filled the air as entertainer Glenn Singer performed his circus horse act in costume.

A.J. Pope, 11, said Singer's show "was really awesome" and his favorite feature of the fair.

Pope sold piggy banks and visors under the Make & Take Artisans tent that children at the Second Avenue After School Program had painted. Saturday's proceeds benefit children in the after school program, said leader Linda Ealy.

Ealy said Pope learned how to interact with others -- and good selling techniques -- as he asked passersby if they would like to purchase a scribbled-on piggy bank.

"The Children's Fair is a wonderful way to include children and the whole FestivALL experience," Ealy said.

Separated by Quarrier Street, Children's Fair visitors walked right up to the Capitol Street Art Fair. More than 60 artists -- selling art ranging from woven baskets to pottery to custom crafted ink pens and hand-dyed t-shirts -- sat under tents showing off their work.

The Capitol Street Art Fair had something for everybody, said Pat Trujillo who traveled from Morgantown with her husband for their first FestivALL experience.

Artist Ginger Danz visited FestivALL for her first time, too, Saturday. The Fayetteville resident sold acrylic paintings that featuring nature and items she finds around her house.

In one painting, Danz glued her grandmother's handwritten letters to a canvas and made a collage of colors with two teapots in the middle. Her main inspiration is the New River Gorge, though, since she lives right by the bridge. Danz even won the Bridge Day 2011 poster contest that depicts the New River Gorge.

"People have been so supportive today and they're so interested," Danz said about her artwork. "It's great to hear the music in the street ... it really feels happening and there's a lot of vibrant art."

Sharon Hall, of Charleston, came to the used book sale at the Kanawha County Public Library searching for cookbooks, but she left with Mitch Albom's "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and a mystery novel.

"I like the suspense novel," she said, "but I like to intersperse that with a good beach story."

By 3:30 p.m., when Hall was shopping, the book sale had been picked over, said Lois Payne, a development assistant who was working the sale. The event opened at 9 a.m., and Payne described that morning as a "mob scene."

"We've been busy," said Paula Ward, a technical processing specialist who was running the cash register.

Payne said they'd already had to clean out the register once that day. People weren't shopping for anything in particular, but it was the West Virginia books and the children's items that went the fastest.

Diana Carpenter, of the Elkview area, was thumbing through books in the children's section with her daughter Paige, 8, when Morgan, 13, walked over with three novels in hand.

The black covers were splattered with red paint, to look like blood, and all three were from the "Cirque du Freak" series. Morgan said she didn't know what they were about-she just wanted to read them.

Carpenter shook her head and said Morgan never reads the back of the book. She picks based on the cover.

As they continued to browse, Carpenter said she wasn't there looking for herself. She was there to "entertain the kids."

People watched belly dancers groove to the beat of a drum, and later singers with guitars, on the stage in front of Taylor Books.

FestivALL filled Charleston's streets with all mediums of arts, said Lisa McCracken, who serves on the board of directors for the event.

More volunteers than ever before resulted in a well-organized festival and one of the best ones yet, McCracken said.

Adam Hall, assistant to the director for FestivALL, said he has finally "made sense of the madness."

"The first year [FestivALL] was just four days with four events and now it's grown into 10 days. We're figuring it out and people are trying to get to as many events as they can," Hall said. "We've gone through our growing phase and it's finally clicked. It has become a well-oiled machine."

The festival's biggest surprise: the event's first Art Walk. The walking tour showed off some of Charleston's art galleries around the city. While organizers anticipated about 50 interested walkers, more than 200 people show up, McCracken said.

"The Art Walk is something the community really wants, something we know will be repeated," McCracken said.

"You think there's a need and it gets filled greater than we could expect," Hall said.

David Flint has a home packed with antiques, and he brought some of them to FestivALL to sell.

The Kanawha City resident said his stockpile comes from estate sales and personal collections, and what he had on display Saturday afternoon barely put a dent in it.

You "can't walk through the house," he said.

Flint and his wife, Virginia, operated a booth called "Yesterday's Things" at the antique fair, joining about a dozen other vendors on Hale Street.

The Flints said they'd sold a lot of kitchen gadgets and linens to the thousands of people who'd come through so far. Most weren't searching for one special item.

"Just anything that catches their fancy," David said.

Down the block, Carrie McNabb, of Cullman, Ala., sat waiting for her daughter outside Stray Dog Antiques.

She smiled as she talked about the lace bedspread she bought, explaining it could also be used as a table cover.

"It's beautiful," she said, as she went to pull it out of a plastic grocery bag. "Look at my goose bumps."

McNabb and her granddaughter, 10-year-old Maddie Bowles, had sand snakes around their necks, and Oliver Bowles, 7, was sporting a white fedora and spinning the wheels on an antique rabbit toy.

McNabb said this was an experience she'd look back on and remember fondly for many years.

"This will be a forever trip," she said.

Across the river, Wine & All That Jazz regulars Gary Cassier and Alice Taylor sat in the same spot they sit every year. Relaxing in lawn chairs, the husband and wife spread out a blanket for friends. Homemade bruschetta, hummus and containers full of grapes and pretzels sat next to their wine glass holders they had staked in the ground.

The couple said they like Wine & All that Jazz for the wine, and well, the jazz. They plan to purchase at least six bottles to take home but will sip on four bottles during the sunny Saturday event, Taylor said.

"It's always the best weekend in Charleston," Cassier said. "It's a good way for all of us to get together and it's in a beautiful spot next to the river and the Capital."

By 3 p.m. Saturday, people started to fill the lawn with chairs and blankets at the University of Charleston's campus. Jazz players performed on a stage while wineries served samples and glasses of their wine.

Potomac Highland Winery volunteer Jan VanDyke poured the winery's Golden Apple wine -- made from four types of West Virginia grown apples -- into thirsty guests' glasses. VanDyke said the festival is a good opportunity to advertise the Keyser-based company's wines. The winery won all six contests it entered on Saturday.

"We grow all of our grapes and apples in West Virginia and people take pride in knowing such a good wine comes from this state," VanDyke said.

And they will definitely enjoy the wine, she said.

"Just wait until about 8:30 [p.m.], it's going to look like an adult Woodstock," she said with a laugh.

The last day of FestivALL is today. To see a list of today's events visit http://www.festivallcharleston.com/.

Staff writer Alison Matas contributed to this report. 

Reach Megan Workman at megan.workman@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.


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