By Marcia E. Gawecki
Not many small towns in America can boast that they’ve hosted an annual festival for nearly five decades. Yet, the Idyllwild Harvest Festival, sponsored by the Idyllwild Rotary Club, is hosting it’s 47th event on Nov. 29-30, the weekend after Thanksgiving.
“It’s a tradition to have it at Town Hall after Thanksgiving. A lot of people come up to Idyllwild just for this event,” says Dawn Miller, the former Idyllwild Postmaster, who is in charge of the vendors.
The Harvest Festival coincides with Idyllwild’s annual Santa’s Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony on Saturday at 4:20 p.m. in the center of town.
This year, Miller says they’re expecting about 800 visitors a day.
“We give every visitor a numbered ticket which they show to every vendor and if the number on their ticket matches the number on the vendor’s ticket the visitor receives a free gift,” Miller explains. “Last year we printed 800 tickets and ran out on the first day.”
Idyllwild, known as one of the “100 Best Art Towns in America,” has many unique artists who will be showcasing their work at the festival. Some of the 33 vendors include alpaca wool wear, painted gourds, quilts, photography, paintings, mosiacs, pottery, books and more.
Besides Idyllwild, vendors come from the surrounding communities, including Mountain Center, Anza, Hemet, Temecula, and Indio.
Miller says she limited the number of vendors to show unique, homemade wares.
“We don’t want anything that’s mass produced or resold,” she says. “Most people are here to buy homemade gifts for the holidays.”
Local artist Nanci Killingsworth has been showing her unique “Mountain Girl Mosiacs” at the Idyllwild Harvest Festival for the past several years. For weeks, she’s been making lots of items for the 2-day event, including plates, bowls, cups and ornaments.
Killingsworth takes great care to set up her space, with shelves and table display mounts.
“This is the biggest event of the year for me,” she says.
Thoughout the year, Killingsworh collects broken glass and pieces of clay pots to make her mosiacs.
“Friends and strangers leave bags of broken glass and pots at my front gate,” Killingsworth says with a laugh. “It makes for a nice mix of materials for my mosiacs.”
Besides arts and crafts, the Harvest Festival will feature live music by Local Color and have about a dozen homemade gift baskets that will be raffled off. Raffle tickets will be sold for $1 each. Several vendors have donated gift baskets, including the Idyllwild Jazz Festival, In the Bag from Palm Springs, and local merchants for a weekend getaway in Idyllwild.
The Rotary is also raffling off a homemade quilt and a carved wooden bear created by local sculptor David Roy.
“It’s really a great festival because the proceeds go to a good cause,” Miller adds.
The event raises about $5,000, Miller says, which is given out mostly for scholarships, including students from Hemet High School and Idyllwild Arts who are going to college. Some is given to the Idyllwild Help Center Food Pantry, and the new Community Center.
The 47th Annual Idyllwild Harvest Festival will be held on Friday, Nov. 29 and Saturday, Nov. 30, starting at 9 a.m. The event is free and open to the public. It’s located at the Town Hall at 25925 Cedar Street in Idyllwild (down the street from Hidden Gardens Chinese Restaurant).
For more information, call Dawn Miller at (951) 659-0444 or visit www.idyllwildharvestfestival.com.
Copyright Marcia Gawecki Art. All rights reserved.