Fire company auxiliary hosting annual Artisans Festival

Coastal Point • File Photo: Pam Browne will be at this weekend’s Artisan Festival, displaying her ‘deco-mesh’ wreaths.Coastal Point • File Photo: Pam Browne will be at this weekend’s Artisan Festival, displaying her ‘deco-mesh’ wreaths.Artisans from around the region are preparing their wares this week for one of the most popular events of the “shoulder season” in Bethany Beach.

The Artisan Festival, now in its ninth year, will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Bethany Beach fire hall.

Sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company, the fair features the work of more than 50 artisans, according to Auxiliary President Kristen Steele.

Pottery, glassware, earrings, baskets, clothing and a variety of artwork are just a few of the fine examples of craftsmanship offered at the fair.

Dagsboro resident Pam Browne is looking forward to the fair, where she and her cousin, Millsboro resident Renee Valeski, will once again share their “deco-mesh” wreaths.

The two began making the colorful wreaths about two years ago.

“We started out just doing it to fight boredom on winter weekends,” Browne said. Referring to the wreaths as “statement pieces for your front door,” she said she and Valeski enjoy searching for items to decorate the wreaths as much as actually constructing them, and that “designing them is actually the longest part of the process,” because there are so many decisions to make for each piece.

“There are so many fun things to find,” she said.

The wreaths can feature any number of themes, from holidays to sports. Halloween wreaths are as fun to make as they are popular, Browne said, and Baltimore Ravens wreaths top the list of sports-themed décor that she and Valeski bring to the fair.

Bethany Beach artist Amber Starr brings her love of nature to her work, which includes dreamcatchers, jewelry, pet portraits, “fantasy artwork,” such as a current series of portraits of goddesses, and colorful “nature prints” made with plants. Starr, who works at Roots Landscaping & Garden Center in Selbyville, said her formal education in horticulture has blossomed into her current dual careers.

“I gain a lot of inspiration from where I work,” she said, noting that the Artisan Fair was one of the first shows she attended as an artist, and she looks forward to it every year. “Kristen does a great job,” she said, recalling that her pet portrait specialty grew out of a question from a friend who saw her at the show. “I got five or six commissions from that show,” Starr said.

At 22, the young artist said she particularly enjoys the networking aspect of the Bethany Beach show and feels lucky to be able to showcase the work she loves. “It’s what I wanted to do my entire life,” she said.

In addition to the eye-popping array of creative work, the Artisan fair offers a large selection of foods, including shrimp salad; chicken salad; hotdogs; bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches; chili; quiches; and the auxiliary’s “famous apple pies.”

A “Chinese auction” is another popular feature of the fair.

The Artisan Fair is held outside the fire hall, as well as inside, and will be held rain or shine, Steele said. In case of rain, the fair would be held completely indoors. With Hurricane Matthew’s path still uncertain mid-week, she added that only if the fire hall becomes inaccessible due to flooding or travel restriction would the fair be canceled.

Admission and parking for the fair are free, and metered parking is also no longer in effect. The Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company is located at 215 Hollywood Street in Bethany Beach.