Henry County Holiday Bazaar

Hand-crafted holiday gift items
to be available at annual bazaar

Festival boasts more than
50 booths of skilled artisans

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

NEW CASTLE, Ky. (October 2008) – Earl Fortner’s interest in leather craft began in 1966 when he was in high school. After perfecting his craft through many years of experience, he is still making anything and everything that can be fashioned out of leather.

Earl Fortner’s leather work

Photo provided

Examples of Earl
Fortner’s leather
work is shown above.

The outcome was several wallets and purses which his father took to work with him at General Electric Co. and sold. As demand grew for his handcrafted artwork, Fortner, 57, was encouraged to pursue his hobby of leather craft further. In addition to belts, he also makes cell phone cases, leather knife sheaths and repairs horse saddles and bridles.
Fortner, from Defoe, Ky., is one of many artists participating in the 16th annual Holiday Bazaar, set for Saturday, Nov. 8. The show runs from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Henry County 4H Fairgrounds Building on Hwy. 421. This bazaar is sponsored by the Henry County Extension Homemaker Organization.
More than 30 booths will feature artists and craftspeople selling music boxes, turned wooden bowls, hand painted gourds, painted furniture, jewelry, oil paintings, candles, holiday decorations, hand-tied brooms and toy tractors.
Lunch will be served by the Senior Citizens from Tri-County Community Action Agency. The Henry County Chamber of Commerce will be selling cookbooks and pictorial history books. County organizations such as the Smithfield Garden Club,New Castle Methodist Women, Hillview Farms and Town and Country will also be on hand.
Upon graduation from high school, Fortner took a job at Brunswick Co. in Henry County, working in the cutting department. His first position was laying out material to be cut for golf bag parts. He then moved on to cutting the parts with a cutting knife and then a die cutting machine.
Next, Fortner received the job of hand cutting all sample bags and special bags.
“I even made a bag for Bob Hope and various other well known people,” said Fortner. “I learned a lot there” said Fortner of his 27 years at Brunswick Co.
All the while he had not neglected his fervor for leather working. Drawing on this added experience from his positions at Brunswick Co., Fortner ordered even more tools, machines and various other supplies to craft small leather articles for customers. But when he purchased a farm, he reluctantly gave up leather working for three years.
Not happy with this decision, he built a shop, sold his farm and began creating horse tack, belts and other leather items from his home near Defoe.
“I also started repairing saddles and just about anything made with leather,” said Fortner. What started as a hobby has now picked up lately due to the many leather repairs he has gotten requests for.
Fortner attended the bazaar for the first time last year and said many people shop for Christmas gifts. He takes part in other Guild sponsored events such as the Harvest Showcase and the annual Henry County Arts and Crafts Guild Show.
’“I enjoy meeting people and selling my work,” said Buehler, a Guild member.
“I only do craft shows in the fall,” said Buehler. Someone suggested that she take part in the bazaar and it is now one show that she won’t miss.
Some of the items Betty Buehler crafts are scroll saw Christmas ornaments, Santa Claus dolls, quilted Christmas purses, and appliquéd sweatshirts.
Donna Williams, a Master broommaker and juried member of Kentucky Crafted, is returning to this year’s bazaar after a few years’ hiatus.
“The Holiday Bazaar is a wonderful event close to home,” said Williams. “It is a great benefit for the community and county, as well as a fundraiser for the Homemakers and for the Henry County Senior Citizens.”
Although Williams is not currently a member of the Guild, she was a founding member along with several other artists who envisioned a creative outlet for Henry County artists.
Such events as the bazaar are “a wonderful outlet for local artists, and artists like Rodger Combs (feather painting) who lives in Bardstown but has family ties in Henry County,” she said.
It is also a “chance to purchase some very unique, one of a kind, hand-crafted gifts and miss all of those crowded mall parking lots, while supporting our local agricultural economy,” said Henry County Extension Agent Maryellen Garrison.

• For more information on the 16th Annual Holiday Bazaar in New Castle contact Maryellen Garrison at (502) 845-2811.

Back to October 2008 Articles.



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