Artisans at Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival enjoy sharing their creations
Deb Andrison finds peace amid small strips of paper and glue on the sun porch at her North Huntingdon home.
She turns tiny shreds of paper into beautiful art — a group of zebras at a watering hole, a carousel, a wide-eyed owl — and then stores her quilling masterpieces at her home until there’s a buyer.
And for four days a year, the retiree shows off her centuries-old hobby as Willowbrook Creations to thousands of people at the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival at Twin Lakes Park.
“This is the only show I do,” she said Friday as festivalgoers checked out her jewelry made from gift wrap.
Andrison is among about 19 percent of the 162 Artist Market vendors listed on the festival’s website that are based out of a Westmoreland County location. Many others hail from surrounding areas including Pittsburgh, McKeesport, Freeport and Boswell.
Nearly half of Artist Market vendors hail from outside of Pennsylvania.
For friends Justin McCallen and Dan King, both of Lawson Heights, being local definitely had its advantage.
“People love that we’re from Latrobe,” McCallen said.
The pair manufacture custom fishing rods outside of their full-time jobs. Dead Drifter Rod Co. has a three-month waiting list for handcrafted rods they make from several different varieties of cork and acrylic or modified wood.
“Me and him were sick of buying junk rods, and it turned into this,” McCallen said.
Getting their art into the public eye for their first year at the festival was all about gaining exposure and a social media following.
“I think it really strikes people with the hometown feel, like this is happening right next to me,” King said.
Dawn Davare had just a few miles to drive from her Hempfield house with her wheel-thrown stoneware pottery, from mugs to home decor items. It was nice — and calming — for her to see the smiling faces of family and friends during Dawn Davare Design’s first time at the festival.
“I have come to this festival every year of my life,” Davare said. “So I feel crazy lucky that I get to actually be a vendor this year.”
Artistic hands are busy throughout the year around Westmoreland County, creating artwork through many different means — pen and paper, paint, wood and needle and thread. For Andrison, working with her hands creating paper filigree pictures is her “zen.”
“I think everybody needs to have some creative outlet,” she said. “They shouldn’t think it’s frivolous.”
The festival, now in its 45th year, continues from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the park, east of Greensburg.
Admission is free, but area lots charge between $5 and $10 for parking. Parking shuttles from Saint Vincent College, Pitt-Greensburg, Nicely Elementary School and Greengate Centre are $2 round-trip. Children under 10 are free.
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Renatta at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter .