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The Homegrown Festival

The Homegrown Festival showcases locally handmade goods, curated vintage, food trucks, and live music. We’ll see you there on Saturday, Oct 7th, from 10am-5pm in historic downtown Siloam Springs!

Here in Northwest Arkansas, people are working with their hands.

They’re moving into old houses and pulling up the linoleum to polish wood floors. They’re trimming the old-growth trees that have been here since this land was owned by France.

Here in Arkansas you’ll find gardens in backyards, and hot loaves of good bread coming out of ovens. In the fall you’ll smell woodsmoke in the air from cooking fires. Here, you’ll find piles of sawdust outside propped-open back doors and old windows getting polished for the first time in years. You’ll see painters teaching people how to stroke a figure onto a canvas, a pale designer mapping a mural onto the long-blank side of an old building. Amateur brewers are gathered in somebody’s garage around a fermenter. Beadmakers are nursing their torches. Musicians are tightening their strings and drum heads, licking their reeds. Bakers are caring for their levains. Gardeners are regarding their ruddy fingernails. Cooks pressing tortillas. Anglers tying flies. Cheesemakers are warming their milk.

Yes, it is a beautiful thing. The October 7th Homegrown Festival in historic downtown Siloam Springs will be a celebration of this idea — this tradition of making.

The handmade object is a treasure. Better yet, the made object is a treasure. If it weren’t, then mass-produced images hung in hospitals wouldn’t have little wisps of clear acrylic laid over prints to simulate brushstrokes, and nation-wide restaurant chains wouldn’t advertise homestyle cooking. I simply say made and not handmade because things mass-produced are, as the description suggests, products. A car seat isn’t made. A hand-carved rocking horse is.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t suggest that everything you need, you should make. We can’t all become a carpenter every time we need a bookshelf. And if we had to make every piece of art we hung on our walls, I would have even more decoration problems than I already have. The point is, there are people all around us in Northwest Arkansas who are wonderful makers. Getting the things we need from them not only encourages makers to devote themselves to their craft, it helps us understand our home, Arkansas, and it makes for a better bookshelf–or beer, or pair of earrings.

I can’t tell you that every object you buy, in order to live a happy and healthy life, should be handmade. But I do suggest that living a life in closer proximity to real objects, made by a person–a life spent eating more food and less food products–is far more beautiful (if not healthier and better for the environment) than the alternative.

On October 7th, from 10am to 5pm there are going to be a whole bunch of people that make this living a “made” life more possible–at tables and under tents in the park and lined up along Broadway St. in historic downtown Siloam Springs–people who make things with their hands and hearts and minds. They make music and jewelry. Ice cream and poetry. T-shirt designs and makeup. Coffee and pottery. Hammocks and tacos. And a whole lot more. Between the old buildings and by the meandering Sager Creek you’ll find live music, a pumpkin patch, and tons of free activities for kids that encourage hands-on creativity and making. You should come by. It’s called the Homegrown Festival. And it’s going to be beautiful.

Sam Dinger is a fiction writer and an adjunct instructor of English at John Brown University.

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