New roads take you to new places and you never know what you’ll see. This was the case when I pulled my van into Silver Dollar City. I entered by Browns Candy Store and made a left by the blacksmith. Take a right past the general store and proceed to the area in front of the Chapel. This was the home of My Vintage Varia for twenty days in September and October. We knew little of what to expect and was hoping for the best.
Our booth home in September
The one one big attitude promoted at the city is “family.” You are to treat fellow workers and customers as family. There is no smok’n, drink’n or cuss’n in the city. It’s yes ma’am or no ma’am. I will say it made for a very pleasant and calming work environment. Many shows could learn this lesson. Our fellow artisans quickly became friends and some everlasting ones, such as “Just Jenny”, a woman transplanted to the Ozark Hill’s from England. She created fine sewing crafts. On the other side of our booth was Doug the Cooper. He operated the cooperage creating from scratch some excellently built barrels and wooden buckets. A very old craft still done the same way today. There were painters, carvers, crafters, jewelers and all sorts of variety of artisans.
Doug the Cooper, working his 41st year at the SDC Festival! Many of the vendors had returned for multiple decades.
Everyone stopped to watch Doug as he lit the fire and burned the inside of a barrel at twilight. His entire nuclear family attended that night with his grandsons helping hammer down the bands and plane the edges.
Von, from Wichita, KS uses three sizes of looms to create his capes, shaw’s, throws and scarves from beautiful yarns. Warm weather and rain were not his friends.
The costume sewing, dressing and fitting room. Pick out your duds here! You received pants, shirts, vests and hats as a gent. Woman wore long prairie dresses, stockings and pantaloons.
We were all dressed to 1880’s period attire and were told to refrain from “contemporary” speech. All booths, decoration, dress and music reflected the historical theme. Each morning at 10 am everyone in the park and vendors gathered around the flagpole to raise the flag, say the national anthem and sing the star spangled banner. We looked forward to this everyday. They would first look for veterans from the military. Each received red, white & blue military ribbon, they lined up and marched toward the flagpole with the applause of the crowd. Once the flag was hoisted, the hats came off and the hands went over the hearts! If you didn’t, you could expect the stink eye from someone as a few young people from Oklahoma learned.
The thought of being in the Ozarks in Autumn conjured up colored leaves, smoking winding through the trees and a crispness in the air. What we experienced was many climates in one season. It began hot with 95 degrees and heavy humidity. It ended with 40 degrees and mist. In between there were a few wet days where the vendors stayed in the cabins, visited a little and waited for a better day.
This was our view for eight hours one day. It can get cold in them there hills!
We needed to have our booth open by 8:30 am as the first visitors arrived. The park closed at 6 pm. We parked quite a distance away and was driven to the door and back on a tram . They were long days, some were crowded and some were not. The busiest day was a Saturday in October where the attendance reached over 19,000 visitors!
As craftsman we were responsible for demonstrations daily. While the steps of assembling a clock is difficult on sight, I chose to illustrate some more elaborate designs as my demonstration. First I painted my version of Grant Wood’s American Gothic and then I did my signature flag on a 36”clock. This one sold the next day!
The idea of Silver Dollar City is stepping back in time to the Ozark 1880’s through dress, decor, buildings, language and of course the arts! No one denies the current date but we all did our best to follow through on the theme. My two sisters also helped in many ways as they live in Branson. They also came and worked the booth to take in the whole experience. It didn’t take long before they knew what to say and how to answer the hundreds of questions we were asked.
It’s a beautiful area. We were able to take in a great cruise on the Branson Belle riverboat. Taking in the Fall colors on Tablerock Lake was one of the highlights of our stay. What a trip, what a show. We spent Autumn in the Ozark hills, we sold a van full of clocks, talked to thousands of customers… and we’re glad to be home. We will see how our schedule and 2019 go but we have already applied to do it all again!