By Leigh Ann Rutledge
The 47th annual Algonquin Mill Festival could be one for the record books.
The weather was wonderful all three days with rain holding off until after 4:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The crowd was on par with attendance at the last three for four festivals.
Carroll County Historical Society President Dave McMahon felt the threat of rain and wind Sunday is what drew a large crowd Saturday. McMahon noted over the years, Sunday was the day for the big crowd, but lately it has changed to Saturday drawing the big crowd.
“This year we had the perfect storm,” McMahon stated. “We had beautiful weather Saturday and the public listened to the weather forecast predicting rain and storms Sunday.”
McMahon said the society did a great job of advertising and promoting the festival, which helped with the large turnout of people. However, the large turnout did cause issues with parking. People were stuck in traffic for up to 90 minutes at times. One of the issues involved non-society related parking and pedestrians having to cross the busy road, holding up traffic.
“I want to thank everyone who had patience and survived the hour plus wait in traffic,” McMahon said. “I commend you for your dedication.”
Despite weather reports, Sunday’s turnout was, in McMahon’s opinion, “Like the best Friday we’ve had.” McMahon said a lot of food was sold out by the time the rain hit Sunday, with less than 10 chicken dinners available.
The Pancake House, operated by the Carrollton Civic Club, had a line of people that snaked through the rows under the roof and up to the information booth for nearly 4 1/2 hours Saturday. Lines were long Friday and Sunday, also.
The cookie house sold out of 1,330 dozen cookies at noon Sunday and the ever popular sauerkraut sold out (nine ton) at 1:12 p.m. Saturday afternoon. At one time Friday, the kraut line wrapped around nearly to the big building (behind the stage) where crafters are housed. Again this year, the apple cider sold out. Laura Logan, Carrollton High School FFA advisor, noted, “We sold out at 12:45 p.m. Sunday. That is the earliest we have sold out since I have been teaching.” Logan ordered extra this year.
Homemade bread was another in-demand item. Individual slices of white and wheat bread are sold and loaves are provided to other booths at the festival.
Volunteers begin preparing the bread before the festival, baking Thursday in order to have loaves ready to slice and sell Friday. Merle Long began working in the bread house in 1992. Due to health reasons, he turned his duties over to his son, Merle Jr., when he retired from the Army in 2001. When asked how to tell when the temperature is right for baking, Ken Zippay, a volunteer from Carrollton, said, “When you can count to 10 while holding your arm in the oven.”
Zippay, Long Jr. and Amanda Cintula manned the bread oven Friday.
Along with homemade foods, visitors enjoyed old-time demonstrations. Regardless of the warm temperatures, volunteers at the Spinning and Weaving cabin kept the fire in front of the cabin going throughout the festival.
Pots of warm (never boiling) water sitting around the fire are used to dye wool various colors. Kelly Lazette, tending the wool, explained loose fiber or yarn can be dyed.
Color can vary if it dyed before it’s spun and the longer the wool stays in the dye, the deeper the color.
Wool is dyed by various ingredients, such as turmeric for yellow; pomegranate skin, khaki; and sandalwood and paprika, variations of orange.
Cochineal, a scale insect found on cacti in North American deserts, is used to make a red dye. Lazette said the cochineal is what the British used to make their “redcoats.” Through research, she also learned only female cochineal are used for dying and it takes 70,000 insects for one pound of dye. Harvesting cochineal insects is how some families in Mexico make a living.
Another bug used for fiber dye is the lac, an insect found in India.
Logwood, a tree from South America, creates a brownish-purple color. Lazette noted when it is treated with ammonia; the color turns a vivid, shocking purple.
She said the spinners and weavers are considering do themes for the dye process, such as mushrooms and fungus.
Old and new cars could be found in the car show during the festival including jack-up 4×4 trucks, a 1965 Galaxie 500 XL, a Volkswagen Beetle and a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda with a California license plate.
Music and entertainment featured high school bands and choirs Friday, singing and cloggers Saturday and Sunday. Local residents who perform as “True North and Friends” had the grounds “whoopin’ and hollerin,” playing lively gospel songs and old favorites such as “Lean on Me.” They kicked the grounds into gear for their performance by playing a little Tom Petty, “Mony Mony” by Billy Idol and a song by Toby Keith about things he won’t do with Willie Nelson.
Society volunteers will wrap up the 2017 festival and begin preparing for the 2018 event, scheduled Oct. 12-14.