Colonial Trade Faire
Indiana crafter Burch to appear at Colonial Trade Faire in June
Event in La Grange to feature many period artisans, demonstrations, entertainment
LA GRANGE, Ky. – At the tender age of 4, Joe Burch learned to weave on a barn loom while sitting on his great-grandmother’s lap. A fourth-generation weaver, Burch kept up the skill and began his own business many years later when he retired.
His great-grandmother, Lucinda Orsburn, descended from a long line of traveling weavers who originated in Virginia. The family made their way to Indiana, where they settled, Burch growing up west of Bloomington.
Burch kept up with the skill all of his life and even took weaving classes. He is adept at weaving linen, wool and “mostly 100 percent cotton that was grown here and milled on equipment built in the 1860s,” said Burch, 84.
After retiring from the bakery business, Burch met a new neighbor who had moved into the house across the street. Mike Connor introduced him to re-enacting.
Since then, Burch has started his own business, Ewe and Me and Co. He creates hand-woven towels, washcloths, table runners and shawls. Connor convinced him to attend re-enactment events where he could sell his wares.
Photo by Helen McKinney
Joe Burch learned his trade at a young age and continues to work and demonstrate weaving today.
Connor and his wife, Star Corthell, often assist Burch to re-enactments, helping him to set up and take down his display. “I believe that Joe is a devoted craftsman,” said Corthell. “He is dedicated to creating beautiful and pragmatic hand-woven crafts. His attention to the details of his craft is second to none.”
• For more information, contact the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.
Burch’s quality products are in high demand at many places including The Flea Off Market in Louisville, “200 Years on the River” at the Farnsley-Moremen Landing, events at the Shubael Pioneer Village, The Long Run Massacre & Floyd’s Defeat event in Shelbyville, and A Colonial Christmas in La Grange.
He will be showcasing his work for the sixth annual Colonial Trade Faire from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 4-5 at the Oldham County History Center, 106 N. Second Ave., in La Grange, Ky. This event is held in conjunction with the Arts on the Green Fine Arts and Crafts Festival.
The Colonial Trade Faire will bring the spirit of the past alive. Merchants will be camped on the grounds of the History Center selling handcrafted, high quality 18th century wares. Admission is free.
Period artisans will display handcrafted goods such as clothing, hand-dyed yarns, loom woven items, pewter, copperware, pottery, jewelry, lanterns and beeswax candles. Day-long, on-going demonstrations of heritage skills will include spinning and weaving, music, a look at life in the Militia, musical instruments, 18th century cannon demonstration by the Painted Stone Settlers and the History Center’s Colonial Garden.
There will be entertainment by magician Dave Cottrell, strolling musician Jon Hagee, local musician and instrument crafter Tom McShane, members of the Sons of the American Revolution and stiltwalker Beth Godshall. The Marquis de Lafayette and his wife, presented by Living Statues, will make a special appearance from 11-1 p.m. Saturday. The Little Kentucky River Winery will be selling its wines as well throughout the weekend, representing the many wine makers who came to Oldham County.
During the American Revolution, colonists could not obtain imported goods due to the war with England. Once the Revolution was over, trade with other countries once again opened, and goods became available for those who could afford to buy them. That is when individuals like Burch would have been able to make a lucrative business for themselves.
For Burch, the best part of weaving is the finished product. “I like getting things done. I like making things for people,” he said in his humble manner.
Also included in the Colonial Trade Faire offerings will be several Kentucky authors who devote their time to writing about Kentucky’s rich history. Writers scheduled to appear at this time include Lynwood Montell (Tales from Kentucky Lawyers, Ghosts Along the Cumberland), Ron Elliot (From Hilltop to Mountaintop, Inside the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire), Mike Grimes (The Pleasureville Connection, 1784-2015, Did You Hear About the Game at Pleasureville?), Phyllis McLaughlin (Images of America: Trimble County, Images of America: Carroll County) and Nancy Stearns Theiss (Life At the River’s Edge, Rob Morris: A Place in the Lodge).
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