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Posted May 4, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Weekend in the Park continues tradition

kettle corn
Jim Ennis pours out a kettle full of kettle corn. Dennis Grundman/Daily

Monica Staats and her sister Madison
Monica Staats, 10, and her sister Madison, 6, of Winchester, share nachos and cheese fries at Jim Barnett Park during Anthony's Pizza Weekend in the Park on Saturday. Dennis Grundman/Daily

Emily Keller learns to play a wooden frog
Emily Keller, 9, of Winchester, learns to play a wooden frog that mimics the sound of a frog when hit. Dennis Grundman/Daily

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By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- ewilkerson@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- The threat of rain didn't cloud the enthusiasm of shoppers and vendors at the Snowden Bridge Arts & Crafts Show at Jim Barnett Park on Saturday.

The arts and crafts show, which is part of Anthony's Pizza Weekend in the Park, is in its 34th year, and more than 150 crafters were set to display their wares Saturday and Sunday.

"Everybody's just having a really good time," said Carol Clark, of Stir Krazy Kettle Korn. Clark, of Capon Bridge, W.Va., said she and her kettle crew make it to about 15 festivals a year, and the "Apple Blossom [Festival] always makes everyone happy."

As the sound of popping kernels grew louder, a few passersby stopped to watch the fresh corn being dumped from the kettle and salted.

"Oh, that smells so good," said a woman who walked away with a fresh bag. The sugar is what makes the snack so addictive, Clark said.

"It's like a drug. ... Of course, I wouldn't know," she said, laughing.

While working the kettle, which she and her crew have done for about three years, "you do get to meet some fun people," she said.

"Most people that come up, they're always in a really good mood," she said. And surprises aren't uncommon -- last year, a woman dumped the entire contents of the stand's free sample container into her shirt, Clark said.

"The people beside us, they were laughing," she said. "We were like, 'What's wrong?' They said, 'You should have seen it.' ... You get a lot of laughs."

Along with traditional fair snacks, vendors displayed everything from handbags and jewelry to housewares and furniture. At one booth, customers could even buy frogs -- hand-carved wooden frogs, that is.

Jimmy Fortenberry, of Frog Pond Music, said the frogs are made of catawba and butternut wood -- two types that "really resonate." The inanimate amphibians start out as solid blocks of wood, he said, and they're painted to look like various species of frog after carving.

Though the musical instrument they're based on was invented hundreds of years ago, the frog shape was designed by Fortenberry's family, which has a history of woodworking, he said. The sounds the frogs produce can even fool the real thing, he said.

"If you play it just right, you can get them to croak back at you," he said.

This year was the Tennessee-based company's first at the festival, he said.

"Oh, we like it," he said. "It's a good-quality crowd that comes through."

Lu Keckley, of Winchester, said the festival, which is in its 82nd year, has always been a part of her life.

"I believe in the tradition of Apple Blossom," she said. "I grew up in the city and went to [John Handley High School]."

Keckley said she liked coming to the park while the Grand Feature Parade went on downtown. The show looked to be very organized this year, she said, and she liked the change.

"I'll probably buy something off-the-wall," she said, laughing. "Don't know what."

Marti Holmes and her daughter, Erica Troxell, both of Strasburg, carried several packages as they browsed. Troxell said the pair had bought more this year than usual.

"We just look at everything," Holmes said. "You just look around and see what hits you."

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