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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Kempenfest Information

Ken Loverock is looking forward to the hustle and bustle of Kempenfest. He's been going to the gigantic arts and crafts festival, off and on, since he was a college student in the late 1970s, and he remembers the crowds were big back then too.

He doesn't worry about the thousands of people squeezing to the left, then the right, the strollers or dogs on leashes, in fact he's looking forward to seeing them. As one of the 370 vendors at the festival, the local potter can enjoy the days tucked away in his booth. It's a busy three days, but he enjoys it.

"It's close, it's easy for me to get to," he said from his showroom at Fergusonvale Pottery, which he owns with his wife Gwen. The business is located next to his home in Fergusonvale, between Barrie and Elmvale.


He used to do other arts and crafts shows, including big ones in Muskoka and Toronto, but decided to cut back to local shows. Kempenfest is his biggest. "There are a lot of things to consider when you go to shows, like who's going to mind the shop while you're away."

His busy time starts well before the long Civic Holiday weekend. "I put a real push on in early June," he said. "I start preparing, getting it all made, then the last two weeks of July it gets fired."

Loverock's introduction to Kempenfest was when he was still a fine arts student at Georgian College in the late 1970s.

He began the fine arts program in 1976 and had to pick a major the following year. "I don't know why I took pottery," he admitted.

He continued as a vendor until the 1980s, then took a break before heading back in the early 1990s. "I've been going back ever since," he said.

In addition to doing brisk business over the weekend, there is also spin-off benefits. Located at the corner of Highway 27 and Flos Line 4, many people drive by, but he notices a jump in business during August.

"People will come in and say they saw me at Kempenfest," he said.

He describes his work as functional table wear which includes oven wear, wine goblets, table settings and sugar and cream sets. He also makes woven bowls "which are primarily used for fruit."

For Kempenfest, he likes to bring some of his weather proof birdhouses and other unique gifts.

"When you've been doing Kempenfest for so long ... you have a pretty good idea what to bring. You go with the standard stuff and then some new things," said Loverock. "Over the years, the items that have done really well are the wine goblets and coffee mugs."

His veggie-and-dip bowl has also remained a constant seller over the years. "It's the one item people are constantly asking for."

In the shop, his mainstay is tableware, but that's not what he stocks up on for the show. People are often looking for gifts when they come to a show and are not always sure what will match. The solution is to pick something that doesn't have to match, like a bird feeder, or woven fruit bowl.

A couple years ago, Loverock created fun hockey stick Christmas tree ornaments as a promotion and was pleasantly surprised to see their popularity take off at shows. "People still buy them for their 18-year-old son," he said.

Several years ago, he developed a simple candle holder, which he sold for $5. It made a great teacher gift, and those are the types of pieces many people look for when they come to shows like Kempenfest.

Like many potters, Loverock has a long list of ideas he would like to try, and he hopes someday he'll have the time to experiment.

Now that his children are older, they can help him with the prep work which frees up time for him to work on the actual pieces. His wife Gwen, who took interior design and textiles at Georgian, does the administrative work, as well as lend a hand in the shop. "She helps me with the glazing and preparing the clay," he said.

Once the pieces are air-dried, they are fired in his self-made kiln, which takes about 24 hours to heat up to the 1,100 C for the first firing, then to 1,300 C for the final firing. Then it's several hours before the pieces are cool enough to handle.

His kiln is in a back room of the shop where it can get very hot, particularly on a hot summer day. One year, he had all the doors open to help cool things down when a large bird flew in and panicked, flying from one end of the shop room to the other, looking for an escape. Somehow, nothing was broken, but the experience was more than a little disconcerting, for the potter as well as the bird.

"I'll never get rich doing this," said Loverock. "But I can walk to work and I can drop what I'm doing if one of the kids needs a ride. "It's not all about the money," he said. "There's a lot of other pluses."

Loverock is one of 370 artisans and craftspeople who will have a booth at the upcoming Huronia Festival of Arts and Crafts at Kempenfest. It is one of the largest arts and crafts shows in the country.

The show is presented by the Barrie Art Club and Kiwanis Club of Barrie.

Paintings, drawings, glass works, wood work, metal work, photography, clothing, home decor, jewelry and accessories, pottery, and treats for the body and soul are among the offerings that weekend.

For a complete vendor list, check out www.kempenfest.com.

Parking advice to heed

To ease the Kempenfest parking crunch, free buses will be travelling in one direction, making stops on the lake side of the waterfront.

There are four stops along the waterfront: Lakeshore Drive at Minet's Point Road, the Southshore Community Centre, Lakeshore Drive at Tiffin Street, and Lakeshore Drive at Victoria Street.

The buses then travel through town to repeat the route. They will make a stop at the City's downtown bus terminal to catch any users of the regular bus routes from there.

Visitors can also take advantage of the free Park 'n' Ride shuttle from the Allandale Rec Centre at 190 Bayview Dr. There's free parking throughout the weekend, with shuttles leaving the site every half hour between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Last shuttle returns at 6 p.m. from the drop-off point at Centennial Beach and Victoria Street.

So what is Kempenfest, anyway?

Kempenfest is comprised of a number of local charities and service clubs, that join forces to create the three-day extravaganza.

The Barrie Kiwanis Club works with the Barrie Art Club to act as the jurists for admitting new artisans into the Huronia Festival of Arts and Crafts. The clubs also operate food booths. Funds raised allow the clubs to continue their support of Easter Seals, school bursaries, hearing-impaired children, Iodine Deficiency Disorder, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Salvation Army, food bank, and children's camps.

The Barrie Art Club is one of the founding partners of Kempenfest, and their Huronia Festival of Arts and Crafts is for many, the heart of Kempenfest. The Barrie Art Club supports local artists through scholarships at Georgian College, purchase of art-related publications, donations to Simcoe County Museum, art workshops, demonstrations, and free artistic learning sessions. The club also operates a volunteer-based gallery that is open to the public.

The Rotary Club of Barrie's main focus is on the entertainment stages and beer gardens. Barrie's other Rotary Clubs also participate. The Huronia Rotary Club hosts a Pancake Breakfast on Sunday. Profits are used by the clubs to continue their work with RVH, YMCA, Food Bank, Christmas Cheer, Rotary Islands, and the Southshore Community Centre.

The YMCA has hosted a food and beverage tent for years. It also hosts a Children's Village offering free activities for kids. All profits are used to help families and children to participate in Y programs and activities.

The Optimist Club of Barrie organizes the Optimist Antique Show featuring more than 80 antique dealers.

The club also operates a food booth. Funds raised are used to support the club's ongoing work with youth.

The Barrie Lions Club and the Lioness Club host a food booth and community talent stage during Kempenfest. The club's fund-raising efforts support local charities and sports groups.

The MacLaren Art Centre hosts the MacLaren Oasis - a food and beverage outlet. Proceeds are used to support the visual arts education and exhibition program of the centre.

The Knights of Columbus operate a potato booth. Local potatoes are cooked on-site. Profits are used to continue the organization's support of the less fortunate.

The event is also sponsored by many community-minded businesses. They are listed on the Web site at www.kempenfest.com.

More than arts and crafts at Kempenfest

When people think Kempenfest, arts and crafts are likely what first springs to mind. But the weekend offers so much more to enjoy.

Starting at the far corner on the bay's south shore is the second-annual Canadian Open Barbecue Championships, where visitors can watch teams compete for $20,000 in prize money.

More than 40 competitors will be vying for the money and bragging rights in such categories as beef, chicken, pork rib, pork shoulder and dessert.

This year, visitors will be able to sample some of the great cooking in the competition as chefs will be selling some of their great food. The championships will also feature a licensed refreshment area, with proceeds benefitting the MacLaren Art Centre.

Next to the competition site is the YMCA Children's Village, which provides a safe and fun environment for children under 12 to have fun.

The MacLaren Art Centre has a tent set up near the Tiffin Street boat launch where, among other events, Aboriginal artist Moses Beaver and a youth group from Toronto's 7th Generation Image-Makers will make a large mural about their heritage.

The MAC is also organizing another hands-on project: A community fence. Visitors are invited to paint a fence picket that expresses their own heritage and ideas about our community.

The Optimist Antique Show is back again. Members of the Barrie Optimist Club host a show of antiques and collectibles at the Centennial parking lot.

The entertainment stage and beer tent is centre stage, so to speak, in the heart of Centennial Beach, and then there is the midway set up in the parking lot just north of Victoria Street.

Tucked in amongst these sites, are 370 artists and crafts people who will be selling their unique and wonderful works.

Check out the Web site at www.kempenfest.com.

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