The Leaf Festival

By Myrta Santana-Santini (2019)

Contrary to its misleading name, the Leaf Festival in Cashiers, North Carolina is in no way related to leaves. Regardless, this festival was an amazing experience that I enjoyed so much more that I thought I would. This event turned out to be an extravagant artisanal fair, that featured local artists, as well as people from all over the country.

When we first walked in, we were worried because the event looked smaller than what we had imagined and planned for. It was a lively setting with a lot of conversation and live music. The vendors were very excited to share not only their products, but also their stories and how they got there. Once we moved from the main area, we discovered a path that was filled with more vendors. This path seemed to go on forever, and the amount of people we met, as well as the experiences we gained were priceless. 

I met this amazing older lady selling beaded jewelry. I got to talk to her, and I found out that she started doing this when she retired around three or so years ago. She also had some glass beads in her collection that she made herself. This blew my mind, because as she explained how she did it, and walked me through it, all I could think was “this is so hard.” In order to make the glass beads, she had to heat up the glass, blow it out herself, and manipulate it to take the form she wanted it to take. But she loves what she does. Her booth was next to her husband’s tree booth. They live on a Christmas tree farm, so it’s getting to be that time of the year where she takes a break from the jewelry and helps around the farm. This entire exchange made my day, and she was so excited. I even learned about her children and grandchildren and how long they have lived right there up the road in Glenville, NC. 

As we continued walking down the rustic and natural path, we kept meeting more amazing artists. We met an artist that makes portraits both by hand and with a computer software that allows you to make bigger scale portraits. We stopped and spoke to this family that helped their sister in her art, as she carves designs into egg shells. Yes, egg shells. She uses a dental like drill that allows her a certain amount of precision, where she can make beautiful designs out of these eggs. We spoke with her sister, who walked us through the process and it was mind-blowing. It is also worth mentioning that she started this business when she was just sixteen years old, which we found mindblowing. It was also very wholesome, how her entire family is so invested and helping out in it all, it says so much about them. 

Once we kept on moving, talking to more people, we finally made it to the end of the path were we found a wide-open green field of grass. Parents were playing with their children, and people even brought out their animals with them. You could tell, this was a very people oriented and family oriented event. We also found this amazing brick oven pizza company, that had an oven in a cart. Their pizza was very tasty, and it was very pleasing to eat while enjoying the beautiful day.   

It was a beautiful event, that took place on an even more beautiful day. I would love to go back in the future and see how many of the same vendors are still around, see the difference, as for some of them this was their first or second show. There were so many layers to this event, and I am glad we got to experience it.