Trackside Market

La Grange, Ky., Main Street
to hold street market event

Craftsman Hartlage makes things from tobacco sticks

LA GRANGE, Ky. (September 2021) – When Matt Hartlage purchased a small bundle of tobacco sticks to make holiday gifts for friends and family in November 2016, a unique business was born. Working with reclaimed wood, he gives new life to the aged materials as he crafts them into decorative and custom pieces.
“We work mostly with reclaimed Kentucky tobacco sticks, but also some of our pieces are made using reclaimed Kentucky horse fence,” said Hartlage, 50. When he bought his very first bundle of tobacco sticks, his first design, The Kentucky Snowflake, was born.
Hartlage, who works with his wife, Sara, makes mostly wall decor in various shapes (states, fleur-de-lis, animals, etc.), but also coat racks, wine racks and custom pieces on request. He calls his business Tobacco Barn Craftsman.
Each piece is handmade, hand cut, numbered and signed. He even provides information such as from what county the wood came, the farmer’s name and from which barn the wood was saved.
“We source our wood (tobacco sticks, horse fence) from barns and farms all over the Bluegrass,” Hartlage said. He typically does not put any finish on any of the items he crafts because it takes away from the natural weathering and patina.

Matt Hartlage

Photo provided

Matt Hartlage is a self-taught craftsman who found his niche with tobacco sticks.

He is self taught in what he does and has “always had a love of woodworking.” Hartlage’s family has lived in Oldham County since 1978. They previously lived in Northern Kentucky.
Hartlage will be part of the Trackside Market event held in downtown La Grange from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11. “A lot of vendors that participated in the June ArtsFest will be returning, but we have quite a few new vendors that are participating in the fall Trackside Market,” said organizer Jody Curry.
This vintage street market has had a good turnout of vendors and public since its beginnings in fall 2013. Curry said, “A vintage and hand-crafted market has been held on Main Street every year since, except for 2018. It has been located on Main Street, and a couple of times it has been held on the courthouse lawn.”
Curry helped organize the first Trackside Market, along with former La Grange Business owner Ellie Troutman. The original idea for a vintage market came up at a Main Street promotions committee meeting in 2013, said Curry. Since both she and Troutman shopped regularly at regional antique and vintage flea markets, they thought La Grange’s Historic Main Street was a perfect venue for this type of market.

Matt Hartlage arwork

Photo provided

Above is a sample of Matt Hartlage's work using tobacco sticks as his main material.

“We do about six or so shows per year,” Hartlage said. Before the Trackside Market, he will be at the Bluegrass Creative Market in Lexington on Sept. 5.
Hartlage is a member of the Arts Association of Oldham County and has been certified a Kentucky Proud product via the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Through social media “we have developed a friendship with the team at Barnwood Builders and sell several pieces in their store, Barnwood Living, in White Sulphur, W.V.” A DIY renovation show on the Discovery Channel, Barnwood Builders has a crew that salvages antique barns and cabins, re-using the wood to create stunning, modern homes.
Approximately 50 vendors will set up for the Trackside Market, Curry said. Many of the Farmer’s Market vendors stay open all day on the courthouse lawn, adding a total of about 60-70 booths to the market.
Food trucks are scheduled to be on North Walnut Street. Entertainment will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. One of the performers will be the Allen Lane Band who also performed the annual concert for the City of La Grange the night before Oldham County Day.

• The event is presented by the La Grange Kentucky Main Street Program. For information, call (502) 269-0126.

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