Fall Old Court Days
Family gift becomes a family business
for Columbus couple
Ed and Ruthanna Tempest find joy
in making toys for kids
Fall Old Court Days
• 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Sept. 28-30, around the Jefferson County Courthouse in Madison, Ind.
• (812) 701-2733
(September 2018) – When Ed Tempest’s grandson turned one year old, Tempest handcrafted a toy train for him in his woodshop. His grandson loved it, and so did everyone who saw it. Tempest began making more wooden toys for his family and friends, and the recipients raved about the quality of his work.
Before long, Tempest and his wife, Ruthanna, began selling “Pap’s Wooden Toys” at local arts and crafts shows, and a thriving business was born.
For more than 36 years, Tempest has honed his craft. Using hardwood favorites of oak, walnut, and cherry, the Columbus, Ind., resident creates beautiful and sturdy toys that withstand the heavy play of the toughest toddlers. Ruthanna handles the secretarial work of the business, and they enjoy traveling to regional arts and crafts shows together to set up the toys.
Unlike the plastic, electronic gadgets so prevalent in stores today, Pap’s Wooden Toys inspire more imaginative play with their classic, open-ended designs.
“The wrecking ball and the livestock truck are really popular,” Ruthanna says. Their Noah’s Ark set is another top seller. While the couple has enjoyed robust sales at the craft shows, Ed still creates his treasured heirlooms for his family.
“We’ve got 12 great-grandchildren now,” Ruthanna says with a smile. Of course, all of them now have wooden toys specially made for them by their great-grandfather.
Pap’s Wooden Toys will be one of the exhibitors at the Fall Old Court Days at the Jefferson County Court-house from Friday to Sunday, Sept. 28-30, in downtown Madison, Ind. They will join other artisans who bring a wide array of wares such as garden art, handmade clothing and jewelry, hand-painted signs, antiques, collectibles, and many more.
Ed and Ruthanna Tempest (on right) display their handcrafted children’s toys at a previous Old Court Days.
The semi-annual Old Court Days is organized by The Pilot Club of Madison under the leadership of its president, Elsie Perry-Payne. The Pilot Club is a volunteer organization dedicated to serving local communities and promoting awareness of brain-related disorders.
New vendors still have time to reserve a booth space. Applications can be submitted until Sept. 15 via The Madison Pilot Club website at www.pilotclubofmadison.com.
The club provides service opportunities for local high school students through the Anchor Club at Madison Consolidated High School. The Spring and Fall Old Court Days are the only fundraisers for The Pilot Club of Madison. The club usually sells up to 150 booth spaces to vendors.
As one of their longest running vendors, the Tempests have exhibited Pap’s Wooden Toys at the Old Court Days in both the spring and the fall for more than 25 years. Of all the shows where they have been vendors, the Old Court Days is one of the their favorites, they say. They enjoy seeing familiar vendors and customers from year to year, and forming good friendships with one another.
Pilot Club volunteer Linda McDaniel of Madison said she also appreciates the camaraderie at the Old Court Days. “I dearly love Old Court Days. It’s like a family.”
She explains how this sense of friendship extends to the visitors as well, noting that many visitors regularly return each spring and fall for the personal attention they find from the Old Court Days vendors. For instance, it’s not uncommon for people to come in the spring and want something customized in a different color or style, so the artist will make it for them and then have it ready by the fall.
The exhibitors at the Old Court Days are predominantly local – from Indiana or neighboring states. This is a draw for those looking to support local businesses, and it adds to the homey, family atmosphere, McDaniel says. She finds it especially meaningful to buy handcrafted items from these local artists.
The Fall Old Court Days are always held downtown in the last full weekend of September, where exhibitor booths are set up in the area around the courthouse at Jefferson Street and along Second Street. There is no fee to enter the festival. Several vendors will be selling food, such as kettle corn, shaved ice, homemade pies, and homemade ice cream at Old Court Days. Limited activities will be available for children, including a face-painting booth.
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