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Handmade marvels
Melonie Thompson stands in front of a wall displaying a few whimsical metal designs at her booth Oakville Ironworks. - photo by Lacy Garrison

There’s no better way to kick-start the fall festival season than the Beersheba Springs Arts and Crafts Fair, especially if you’re looking for one close to home. That’s why thousands of visitors turned up last weekend to enjoy the food, demonstrations and the breathtaking historic atmosphere on the mountain. 

Located approximately 35 minutes outside of McMinnville, the one-of-a-kind setting and variety of vendors set this festival apart. 

“We’re in our 53rd year and had around 150 vendors from all over, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, other parts of Tennessee as well as locals,” said organizer Melissa Scruggs.    

Longtime vendors David and Melonie Thompson, owners of Oakville Ironworks, had an assortment of yard art displayed in and around their booth. Based out of Danville, Ala., they’ve been coming to the festival for 25 years. Melonie described their creation process.

“My husband uses a plasma cutter to burn out the designs on sheets of metal and then welds them to a stake,” described Melonie. “Our most popular yard art design are the butterflies.”

Demonstrations were a big attraction, including pottery, woodworking and hand spinning. Several people watched Chattanooga resident Tim Reid shape a block of wood into a laminated handle for an ice cream scoop. His booth, As the Wood Turns, offered handmade items including pens, magnifying glasses and birdhouse ornaments.

Dayton resident Michelle Neubel offered samples of chaga tea, a drink made from an extract of a medicinal mushroom called Chaga. She shared that it’s rich in a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. In addition, she had other herbal products available.

Colorful airplanes hung on a display repurposed from aluminum cans with propellers blowing in the breeze. These were created by Richard Dougherty, who said the smaller planes take 10 cans to make while the bomber takes around 16 cans.

“People use them for toys or put them on their porch or garden to scare birds,” explained Dougherty. “I can make eight to 10 planes in three to four days.”

The Beersheba Springs Arts and Crafts Fair is the fourth weekend in August each year.