Festival an artistic success

Neither the current state of the economy nor overcast skies appeared to deter people from attending the annual Montrose Arts and Crafts Festival this weekend. Honolulu Avenue was lined with artists and craftsmen displaying their creations from photography to windchimes to handmade quilts.

Mike and Nancy Leum, longtime Crescenta Valley residents, have been going to the festival for about 16 years.

“It seems that as many or more vendors are here as in the past,” said Mike. “Even with the down economy. And there’s no end to the ingenuity [of the merchants]. Just when you think that every possible use for an every day item has been discovered, you find something new.”

Four-month-old Joseph Koussa was fascinated by the puppet/dolls at the Fairy Tale Doll booth. As his mother Rose held him up to the doll, creator Stephenee Simms danced a Little Red Riding Hood in front of him.

This was the first year Mike Flower, an artist and Crescenta Valley High School teacher, brought his ceramics and pottery to the event. He was impressed with the turn out and had sold quite a few pieces.

“I want to do this again next year,” he said.

While the festival was underway, local Montrose shops were open for business. Once Upon A Time bookstore had a book signing by mystery author Denise Hamilton. A former reporter for the L.A. Times, Hamilton said that many of her novels were inspired by stories she had covered during her time as a journalist.

“I like writing [fiction]. I get to make up the stories and create the characters,” she said.

She added that she has been at Once Upon A Time in the past for book signings.

“I love Maureen [bookstore owner Maureen Palacios] and I want to support independent bookstores,” Hamilton said.

Peter Dubrovsky was visiting the festival and noticed the signing. He ended up buying one of Hamilton’s books for his sister’s birthday.

“I was just walking by. I always like coming into this bookstore,” he said.

Glendale City Councilman John Drayman is also the former president of the Montrose Shopping Park Association which organizes the fair. He was pleased with the turnout as well.

“This is the third largest and the third oldest arts and crafts fair in the state,” he said.

He attributed the sizable crowd — estimated at 30,000 — at the number and diversity of the merchants.

“We have over 300 vendors participating,” he said. “We’ve added about 40 new vendors. It keeps the fair fresh.”

The weather, too, he noted as “perfect” for crowds.

Lisa Dutton has been attending for 22 years.

“I just come and enjoy the day,” said Lisa Dutton who has been attending the festival for 22 years. The weather didn’t seem to be of concern, either. “I come no matter what.”

The fair is the only fundraiser that the shopping park holds each year. Funds raised support the many events that the association hosts including the Montrose Christmas Parade.

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