Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Big Doin's in the Country

Every year, I serve as honorary goal-tender at a very interesting wholesale show, helping my sister gather orders for her soap company. Anyone who creates their own product knows how difficult it can be to tell people how wonderful their stuff is, while it is much easier to talk up things in which one is not so personally invested. In fact on occasion, Maryanne and I will switch sides of the table when we show side-by-side, with her hawking my magazine and books while I sing the praises of her soap or lampwork.
A major local farm and garden supply company holds a combination wholesale show and customer appreciation expo, where many of their suppliers set up to talk face to face with the customers, allowing them to see new products and reps up-close, and place orders for the coming months.
Farmers come from the entire Mid-Atlantic region, and the vast majority arrive by Amish taxi - vans with hired drivers (many of whom look eerily similar to Yosemite Sam) - giving the horses a day off. The air is filled with excitement as people who rarely get to see each other catch up and visit. New babies to show off, young people shyly flirting, and groups of men and women (mostly separate) shooting the breeze, all while an enormous amount of shopping goes on. There are 2 main meals served during the show, and they are smorgasbords featuring traditional PA Deutsch dishes that are reminiscent of our childhood, just as the whole scene reminds us of family reunions of long ago. We are quite certain that we are related to a number of the people we talk to each year.
As with many of the most fortuitous events in life, we stumbled into this show several years ago, not even knowing beforehand that such a thing existed. We love it.
Even in just the past few years, we've noticed an expansion of organic options, as well as heirloom seeds. The non-organic products are still there, but the focus is quickly turning.
Some of the sights....
The company across the aisle from us had these great outdoor flames, sort of a miniature fire for the city dweller to use on a patio, or perhaps even a country deck. They were, unfortunately scented in citronella, jasmine, and (I think) vanilla. We suggested unscented and cedar as options we'd prefer, and the rep thought they were great ideas, although they were selling like hotcakes.
Next to him were gazing globes made in Altoona. Some looked like giant soap bubbles, and of course we liked them the best.
There were lots of garden tools - and a good bit of whimsy...
Yellow jacket and wasp traps that were actually pretty cool looking...
I loved the rainbarrels and outdoor sinks and pumps.
A seller of water garden supplies had some spectacular plants. I snapped these pitcher plants just after the lights were turned on in the morning, so they aren't open yet.
Outside in the lobby, a row of tables was set up to hold the hats and bonnets of attendees.
It was a lot of fun, and each year we win a few more farm markets over to trying handmade soap.
Between customers, we did some proofing and editing on the Nov/Dec issue of the magazine so that we can get it to the printer before the end of the month, and that should get finished up today. Maryanne's husband made another 8 molds while we were gone so that she is able to double daily production with not a lot of hassle.
Off to the next great adventure!

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