Traditional crafts on display at Boonesborough Days
Potter Brian Lacy has lost count of how many times he has traveled from his home in Charlottesville, Va., to Boonsboro to participate in Boonesborough Days. It’s probably been around six years, he thinks.
“It’s one of the most fun shows I do, and I’ve done a bunch of shows. Typically, I’m looking for straight up art shows. That’s the clientele I’m looking for. They are the ones who buy my pots,” he said. “Boonesborough (Days) defies them entirely.”
Sponsored by the Boonsboro Historical Society, Boonesborough Days is a free festival at Shafer Park devoted to showcasing traditional and Early American handmade crafts, paintings and gifts. Artisans demonstrate colonial candle making, blacksmithing, chair caning and basket weaving, as well as broom, soap and pottery making and more. The festival features more than 150 exhibitors with Civil War displays, exhibits by TriState Astronomers, horse-drawn wagon rides, food and music.
Lacy, 52, who owns and operates Brian Lacy Pottery, said he appreciates Boonesborough Days especially for its emphasis on traditional crafts.
“It is critical, of course, for people to have that basis of where all this art came from,” he said. “It all started for functionality of some kind, and worked its way. Once we got functionality down, we made things more decorative, more beautiful, eventually working into something truly artistic.”
Even primitive crafts like rough hewn wooden bowls have artistic beauty.
“You can see the skill that went into making them,” he said. “Some people may not recognize it. Sometimes, someone will see me through or see somebody paint and think, ‘Oh. I can do that.’ But they don’t realize I’ve got 25 years experience doing this now.”
Lacy began his artistic journey as a boy of about 6 years old exploring his grandfather’s wood shop, where he would gather up wood scraps and make toys for himself.
“I learned how to work the wood. I learned how shapes work together,” he said. “When I got older, I used his tools to make furniture for myself.”
In high school, Lacy practiced metalworking, and during his 20s, bored with his day job, he took a pottery class on a whim.
“I admired pottery for a long time. Its functionality attracted me to it. Once I got in there and took a class, I was hooked,” he said.
A year and a half later, he gave up the classes and put his money toward a collection of clay, glaze, materials and equipment.
“I started throwing pots on my own and I never looked back,” he said.
Lacy believes that everyone has the ability to do crafting of some kind, and events like Boonesborough Days helps them to explore the world of possibilities.
“I think it’s important to show the wide variety of things that can be done,” he said. “I run into people who say, ‘I don’t have any artistic ability.’ I tell them that’s wrong. They’ve got something. They just have to find what it is.’
Keeping it fresh
Lacy tries to come up with new items for each year’s shows. He started off making items that he would like to use himself, and grew his repertoire from there to include crocks, jugs, mugs, plates and bowls. Lately, he has been focusing on teapots.
They are kind of fun,” he said. “There are four major pieces that have to be made properly and look nice, and they all need to harmonize together. I enjoy making them because they are challenging and they look spectacular when they are done.”
He also makes and sells coffee pour overs, which many people mistake for soup mugs. The pieces include filters for coffee grounds and serve as a way to make a single serving of coffee.
“A lot of people are getting away from the plastic from their Keurigs and using these instead,” he said.
As he tries to eliminate the use of plastic from his own life, Lacy started making lidded pots to use in place of plastic containers. He also prides himself on the food-safe glazes he has developed and perfected over the years, including his popular glaze known as “speckled hen.”
Being in community
Perhaps Lacy’s favorite part of participating in Boonesborough Days is the community of crafters. He always had “excellent neighbors,” he said.
“Sometimes, you’ll do a show and the neighbors will just have such a depressed energy. Not to sound like a hippie, but those vibes do permeate your booth and people run away from that,” he said. “The people around there are happy and fun.”
Each year, Boonesborough Days is something of a reunion, he said, with neighbors on one side whom he knows as Chuck and Loretta – who has “the most fantastic laugh” — peddling crocheted Barbie doll clothes, and neighbors Beth Rockwell and Barb Twigg on the other with their rug hooking.
“They are fun. It’s like a whole family thing back there,” he said. “Plus, (Boonesborough Days) has the best food of any show I’ve ever done. It’s just excellent.”
If you go...
What: 48th annual Boonesborough Days festival featuring traditional handmade crafts
When: Saturday, Sept. 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Shafer Park, Old National Pike, Boonsboro
Cost: Free admission. Prices of vendor items vary.
Contact: Visit 48th Annual Boonesborough Days Festival on Facebook or go online to https://boonsborohistoricalsociety.org