Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Are You Out of Your Gourd?!

Are you out of your gourd?

That might be some people's reaction to an invitation to go to the Mississippi Gourd Festival in Raleigh, Mississippi. My reaction, on the other hand, was "Sure! Let's go!"

My dad called last Friday night and asked if I'd like to go to the Gourd Festival on Saturday. Because we had tickets to the USM game, I regretfully had to decline. No problem--the festival was on Sunday, too! Yay!

Luckily, Larry was off work Sunday and we both got to go. After a quick breakfast at the Beagle Bagel, gassing up the car and a couple more errands, we headed to my parents' home to pick them up. Then off we went to Raleigh. First of all, I don't believe I've ever been to Raleigh. With less than 1500 residents, it is still the second-largest town in Smith County, and it's the County Seat. For such a small town, it has quite an impressive courthouse.

After about an hour's drive, we arrived at the Smith County Ag Center, the site of the anticipated Gourd Festival. We arrived about noon, and we were all surprised to see many cars were already there. I knew it was going to be a fun event when I saw Felder Rushing's truck in the parking lot. How did I know it was Felder's truck? Well, who else has a rolling garden in the bed of a bright green pickup truck? As a matter of fact, I uploaded this photo to Facebook right after I snapped it with my phone, and almost immediately, Malcolm White remarked "Felder."

Inside, I was unsure of what I'd see. I'd never been to a gourd festival before. Not surprisingly, I saw gourds everywhere, of every shape and size. For some reason, I kept thinking of the television show "Hoarders," (probably because 'hoard' rhymes with 'gourd.') Nonethess, these people were as crazy about gourding as the people on TV are about hoarding.

The people who grow and decorate gourds, most members of the Mississippi Gourd Society, are a pretty creative lot. They "see" things in a gourd that the average eye may not see. I saw gourds painted to look like Santa Claus, fish, geese, snowmen, and much more. They were made into birdhouses, boxes and bowls. Some of my favorites were intricately carved with beautiful designs.

No part of any gourd goes to waste. There was gourd jewelry made of painted and polished pieces of gourds. And windchimes. And purses. Crosses and flowers and butterflies, oh my!
One of the most amazing items I saw crafted from gourds was a banjo made from gourds. Jason Smith crafts "banzas" and has even recorded a CD of the music strummed on the instruments. I could have listened to him play all day!
So my senses were bombarded with all things gourd-related, and I HAD to buy something to take home! I seemed to gravitate to Helen Looman's booth. Her gourds were very simple, clean and beautifully crafted. I found out later that Helen is a member of the Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi. The one I loved the most was a simple bowl, stained with leather dye. It had woven pine straw around the top. Helen patiently explain her weaving technique to me, not realizing that I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to do what she does. I simply wanted to buy the bowl and be impressed by her work. Which is what I did. And here it is, in my house:

And because I'm a sucker for handmade Christmas ornaments, I got this little squash-shaped gourd painted up like a little Santa Claus:
It will hang on my Christmas tree next to my dried okra Santa! (I believe I'm going to get a "permanant" Christmas tree crafted by metal artist Stephanie Dwyer to hang all my special handcrafted ornaments!)

So, who knew how much fun a gourd festival would be? I suspected it would be an interesting outing, and I was right! So what adventure is next? Perhaps the http://www.greatdeltabearaffair.org/ on October 22 in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.

But before I can plan which festival I go to next, I have a couple of other big events to attend. The first is the  Memphis Creative Nonfiction Writer's Workshop this weekend. I'm excited because I'll be making a pitch to several agents, and I'll be getting criquiques on a portion of my manuscript. (In case you don't know, I'm writing a book about Nicole's journey...). Also, I'm planning this year's Walk to Defeat ALS. It will be held October 15 at Winner's Circle Park in Flowood. I need all my friends to jump on board!

So, what are YOU doing this weekend? There's always something going on...just cruise the internet to find a festival, event, or activity and get out there and create some fun memories!

Blessings to all who read this!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Susan, great blog. This is Carol from the 2011 Memphis CNF workshop. I'm adding you to my Google Reader and hope to keep up with your blog. Have a great week.