Festivals pump spring into downtown Macon’s step

jkovac@macon.comMarch 24, 2012 

Saturday was a good day for a walk in downtown Macon, because you couldn’t really drive. Some of the streets were blocked. Springtime festivals had popped up in the middle of them.

Near the corner of Mulberry Street and Broadway, at the east end of the Mulberry Street Festival, two women were pushing baby strollers with dogs in them.

“These are the prettiest children here,” Penni Hartley of Gray said of her Yorkie and another woman’s two dachshunds. “We’ve had a lot of people take their picture.”

The woman with the dachshunds was toting a small sign she’d just bought from an artist down the way. “Zoey and Emma’s Yard,” the sign read. Zoey and Emma are her dogs.

The Mulberry arts-and-crafts fest, in its 42nd year, is a two-block, whatnot-o-rama of paintings, sculptures, handmade jewelry, gourd birdhouses, butterfly feeders, fried-tater sandwiches, T-shirts, dog treats, honey, toy guns, candles, kettle corn and welcome-to-our-house kitchen kitsch.

An artist set up across from the federal courthouse said her least-popular piece, in these parts anyway, was a crimson-petaled, University of Alabama ... flower. Lawn art.

The metallic bloom -- true story, the artist said -- had been fashioned from an empty jumbo can of green beans salvaged from the mess hall of a county jail east of Birmingham.

Down the way, a vendor from Missouri was peddling name plaques that personalize picture frames for boys and girls and pets. He had plaques for almost 7,000 different names.

On occasion, expectant parents pick through his bins to find names for their kids. He’s got everything from Jabberwocky to Fletch to Dude to Cheeto.

Saturday, though, a little girl named Alison -- one “l” -- stumped him. He’d just run out of the single-l Alisons.

“If you’d been here 15 minutes earlier, I’d a had it,” the vendor, Kevin Ledford, said.

Near Third Street Park, a lady selling teak furniture said her merchandise lasts forever. She said it was the kind of stuff “you put in your will. ... You know, Noah’s Ark was made of teak.”

But it didn’t rain Saturday.

And that was good news for vendors, some of whom were around last year when the street fair was swamped by a thunderstorm.

“Every time we come here it seems like it rains,” Pat Barker, a quiltmaker from Tennessee, said.

Getting people to buy quilts when the temperature outside is pushing 80 degrees isn’t always easy. They’re easier to move in the fall. In spring, she said, the birdhouse artists do best.

Even so, she said, “we’ve got a beautiful weekend.”

Saturday’s weather was almost a breathtaking as a sight at the intersection of Third and Mulberry was for one woman.

“Oh. My. Gosh,” she said.

She stood under a stoplight and stared at lawn-art Easter bunnies and Easter eggs.

As she made her way toward the wares, the woman’s teenage daughter followed her and sighed.

“Annnnnd,” the teen said, “we ain’t never gonna leave now.”

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