Pumpkin Festival boosts local businesses
BARNESVILLE — The Barnesville Pumpkin Festival is fully underway, and Barnesville business owners look forward to the festival that has brought tens of thousands of visitors to the village each year since its inception in 1964.
Local crafter Cookie Jackson of Baileys Mills said she has been selling her wares during the festival for a quarter of a century and rents a storefront to do so every year.
“We’ve been in this location for 22 years. This is the only week we are here. We rent from Jane Hall, in the Boswell Monuments building. Concessionaires have to pay for a permit to set up for the festival, but because we rent in a private building we do not,” Jackson said. “You won’t see anything made in China in here, it’s all hand made. We just like it that way.”
Friends and family make the home decor products for sale in Jackson’s temporary store, Pumpkin Porch Crafts. Items for sale include wall hangings, pillows, quilts, wreaths, harvest and pumpkin decor, chests, chairs, benches, Ohio State craft items and “primitives.”
According to countrylivingprimitives.com, “primitives” is a word in the crafting industry that describes a “decorating style that stresses rustic and classical elements as well as earthy color tones and concepts. While the definition of primitive is not ironclad, a good rule of thumb is that it stresses craft over mass production.”
“We do wood and stitch, or as the other girls say, software and hardware,” Jackson said. “We call the store Pumpkin Porch Crafts because we started on our front porch.”
Amanda Rex, a Pumpkin Porch Crafts customer, said she visits and purchases items from Jackson’s store each year during the festival.
“I moved here when I was 13 and have been coming to the festival every year since. I like that the festival is right downtown. I have been selling stuff for the last 11 years during the festival but took the day off this year. Now I get to enjoy myself and shop,” Rex said.
She had a storefront for five years in Barnesville and has rented shop space in downtown Barnesville during the festival for several years. She said she started out marketing resale clothing and later began selling custom T-shirts. Her business is Rexy’s T’s, in which she sells custom printed T-shirts, hoodies and sweats.
“I just do that out of my house now that I don’t have a storefront. I just decided not to set up this year,” Rex said. “I definitely plan to do it again in the future.”
Another business that benefits from festival commerce is Paula’s Primitives, which is located a few doors down from Jackson’s store. Owner Paula Bender said her store is open every day during the festival and is open throughout the year on the first and third Thursday, Friday and Saturday of each month.
“We sell primitive crafts, handmade and personalized decorative items and gifts,” Bender said. “We do about as much business in the week of the festival as we do the entire rest of the year. You definitely want to be open during Pumpkin Festival week. Friday and Saturday nights are usually the busiest time.”
Bender’s sister-in-law, Laura Lucas, helps Bender with the business. The women have been in business together for 10 years, and the two purchased the current shop in 2009. The store originally was named Laura’s Attic, and when Bender took over it became Paula’s Primitives. The two are Beallsville natives but currently reside in Barnesville.
“This (festival) is like homecoming here. People will be coming back here from Columbus and even out of state just to visit,” Bender said. “It’s cute. We have out-of-towners that come in for the festival and they are regulars here. They have their special things that they like, and we like seeing them.”
Grandma’s Primitives craft store, located on East Main Street in the heart of the festival, opened up on Sept. 13 of this year. Owner Vicki Bostick said she formerly operated her business, Grandma’s Country Store, out of the building that was purchased by NAPA Auto Parts. Bostick, a 25-year Barnesville resident who grew up in Wheeling, said she will keep the new Main Street store open until the end of the year and will determine whether to stay open after that.
“Our former building got sold so we shut down and did craft shows. But because the festival was coming we decided to be part of the festival this year,” Bostick said. “Business has been good so far. There’s been a steady stream. It was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen on a Wednesday night for the weigh-in. It was really exciting.”
Bostick sells primitive country decor, including wood crafts and stitched items such as decorative wall hangings, stenciled signs, shelves, benches, cupboards, and sewn pumpkins and sunflowers.
The festival continues today through Sunday in the downtown, with the Giant Pumpkin Parade at 1:45 p.m. Saturday.