Our creative community got to display its imagination and skill at the 95th Annual Heath Fair from August 17-19. The Hall exhibits range from flowers, flower arrangements, vegetables and fruits on a plate or in jars, cookies, bread, maple confections, eggs, ciders, honey, quilts, knitted or crocheted hats, sweater and scarves, lego constructions, photography, art of every sort – and all categories are organized by age. Ribbons and money can be won by everyone!
I spent a lot of time working at the Friends of the Heath Library Book Sale – as I do every year. Donors of books know this is the best way to recycle books, and the pleasure they have already harvested from them while helping the library fund children’s programming and – more books. We love books in Heath!
This year there were even more books than usual at the Fair. Betsy Kovacs and Jack Estes of Pleasure Boat Studio, a Literary Press, are now spending much of their time living in Heath. They organized a Local Authors tent to add to the Fair’s offerings and festivities. They collected the works of an amazing number of very local authors, and the authors themselves to read, sign and sell their books. Their list included me! I was there to read chapters from my book, The Roses at the End of the Road. Peter Brown, pictured above, has been a part-time resident of Heath since before he was born. In a manner of speaking. His parents met in Heath when they were very young and although Robert McAfee Brown and Sydney Brown went on to notable careers far away from Heath they drove here every summer. Those trips across the Plains from California to Heath and back made a big impression on Peter who now has two beautiful books of magnificent photographs published by Norton: On the Plains, and West of Last Chance. Peter has had a stunning career both as an artist and teacher which you can read about briefly here. We Heathans are proud to claim him as one of our own.
Others who read at the Author’s Tent were Tinky Weisblat, author of the Pudding Hollow Cookbook (which includes a recipe of mine!) and of the What’s A Girl to Do Blog. I do not have any other good friends who are such good cooks and good writers. Tinky spoke with the illustrious Alice Parker (they both live in Hawley and have known each other for eons) who brought her books on music and recordings. Susan Todd was there reading Carol Purington’s poetry. I have written about Carol and her work, and her family’s roses in earlier posts. Susan’s husband Dick Todd also read from his latest book, The Thing Itself. Laura Rodley, Jody Cothey, Dave Howland, Michael Hoberman, Susie Chang, Alfred Alcorn, Deborah McCutchen, Saloma Furlong, and Jim Carse all read from their books. Talk about local creativity and skill!
While I was very interested in all the literary activity at the Heath Fair, and I did come home with a BIG box of books, there were many other delights that other members of my family enjoyed. The gymkhana, the Fireman’s barbecue with their own homemade root beer, the ox draw, the skillet toss, the blueberry/whipped cream eating contest, Mr. Flynn’s wagon rides, fabulous music including the Sweetback Sisters, and of course, the Heath Fair parade. I didn’t get a photo of the parade this year, but I did get a photo of my Texas grandsons standing with Mother Earth created by Larry Sampson with Lyra Johnson and the Summer Children’s Reading Program and dressed by Kara Leistyna who is know for her talent with a needle. We love books; we love nature; we love children – and all our loves meet at the Heath Fair.