Saturday, July 17, 2010

.....On the Road Again...

....the Willie Nelson song is in my head and I can't get it out.....Just got back from the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art festival. For those of you who don't know much about it: The festival started several years ago at Crystal Lake, Illinois at a community college. The location was actually fun -- vendors in the school auditorium, up and down the hallways, spilling out into the lawn areas. I'm fairly sure that the vendors thought it was a bit less fun. Running electricity into hallways was a problem; lighting was terrible; and costs mounted because of these logisitcal problems.

Now, the festival has a new home in Grayslake, Illinois, in a big, airconditioned building at the Lake County Fairgrounds. I had a fascinating (read "infuriating") time finding it -- the GPS has old maps in it, and it just couldn't find the address, so I ran around in circles for almost an hour until I just decided to follow Peterson Road. The decision: Either I'd find it, or I'd go shopping in Hyde Park. All those bookshops! Galleries! Coffee shops! Opportunities to GOOF OFF!

I found it. The vendors are much happier. I will have pictures by tomorrow. Everything except the food vendors is neatly contained inside. Today, it was ONE HUNDRED DEGREES outside, so that was a mitzvah. When I went out for some lunch, I honestly thought I was going to melt. And the asphalt parking lots were soft as old bubblegum underfoot.

But I guess I like it less well. On the one hand, the festival itself is just marvelous. Quality is very high. I will have much to say about some of the vendors, once I have the pictures up and ready. But the building is a perfect rectangle, the lot is perfectly flat, everything is brown and black outside, and....well, I guess I'm a fan of idiosyncratic, interesting spaces. I LIKE it when vendors are all over the place, in odd corners. The Southeast Festival (near Asheville, NC), for example, is held in a huge agricultural expo hall -- with vendors stuffed into every square inch, strung along the upper, middle, and lower tiers like beads on strings.....very odd, very fun to navigate. More vendors in small stalls up the hill. The airport across the street. It makes for visual interest, atmosphere, surprise. So I'm glad the vendors are more comfortable. The festival also is getting both bigger and better year by year -- people should GO, and bring lots of money! But I wish the setting were more stimulating and less uniform. It's all oddly industrial. Exception: I almost ran over (and quickly photographed) a big ol' tractor in the parking lot. That kind of thing doesn't happen in Detroit.

On the way home, I noticed a perfect coincidence (I hope I'm wrong) between areas of Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan known to be heavily Republican and the ABSENCE of the signs that mark the projects funded by the Federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Goodness. If I'm right, that could mean that Those People don't want Obama to get credit for roadway improvements. I'm sure I'm wrong...nobody would do that MERELY for political gain (:

In Marshall, Michigan, I actually pulled off the road, thinking that I was maybe too tired to finish the drive.......5 hours on Friday, 5 hours on Saturday, 65-year-old bones. Both of the motels at that particular stop were full! A clear omen. So I went home.

More tomorrow when the photographs are available and when I've slept. svb

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