• Last modified 722 days ago (Sept. 25, 2019)


Art in the Park's visitors flee rain, enjoy weekend

Staff writers

Many visitors chose to duck under the trees and tents in Central Park Saturday when rain showers soaked Marion’s Art in the Park Saturday.

Judy Christiansen, chairman of the Art in the Park Committee, said most shoppers visit both fairs, but quite a few scampered to Marion to escape storms.

“We had people who said they were in Hillsboro when it started raining and they left Hillsboro to come over here,” she said. “The rain was a lot lighter than what they had in Hillsboro. They were out shopping in 10 minutes again.”

Christiansen, who is stepping down this year after 41 years as chairman, said she was satisfied with her last year as thousands turned out to peruse the offerings of nearly 100 vendors.

“It was a good day after all the weather, she said. “It turned out great in the long run.”

She said she urged vendors she to turn out next year.

“I encouraged everybody to keep coming, she said, “I am not the main event. Whether I am there are not I encouraged them to keep coming.”

The weekend offered many opportunities for fun and shopping. Here are a few:

A sisters’ reunion

Six women chose a visit to Art in the Park for their family girls’ weekend Saturday.

Betsie Binford, Belinda Skiles and her daughter Bailey Skiles, Suzie Franklin, Ruth Ricci and Shari Buntain, gathered in support of Binford’s crochet booth and for a sisters and daughter reunion.

“I flew in from California for it,” said Ruth Ricci who lives just north of Sacramento. “Belinda lives here and Betsie crochets like a madwoman. So we said ‘why don’t all the sisters have a reunion at Art in the park?’ ”

“We sent the boys over to Ottawa for the car show. We are having a good weekend.”

A graduate of Marion High School’s class of 1999, Bailey Skiles, who now lives in Washington, D.C., also plans to reconnect with classmates during Old Settlers Day.

Binford, of Uniontown, makes rag rugs and other handcrafted items said she was enjoying her second visit to Marion.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “This is the only craft show I do. I have done other craft shows before and that’s why I don’t do other craft shows. This is it.”

Penguins popular at Art in the Park

Hank Ruckert of Wamego and his wife, Vivian, sold their unique gourd décor at Art in the Park on Saturday.

Ruckert has been selling his handicraft for 20 years. He said he was the first in the business to make gourd penguins.

“Somebody gave me some seeds, and I planted them, and I got this huge crop of gourds that I didn’t know what to do with,” he said.

“I was thinking of piling them up and using them for a wiener roast with the grandchildren.”

Acting on a whim one day, he picked one up and decided to paint it. While he was working on it, he realized it had a penguin shape, so he painted it accordingly.

He has made hundreds since, and they have been his most popular items. He also makes bird feeders, birdhouses, snowmen, choirgirls, ghosts, and other items.

Making gourd décor takes time, Ruckert said. Gourds produced during the growing season are left in the garden all winter and then put in a barn in spring to dry for a year.

Ruckert prepares gourds by washing them in hot water to remove surface scum, then bleaching them in a Clorox solution.

Ruckert paints the gourds, and his wife makes hats, scarves, and other accessories to go with them.

They go to four craft shows every year and have been to Art in the Park numerous times.

“I’m always looking for ideas,” Ruckert said. ”They’re all fun to do.”

Iron man

Carl and Barbara Beesley couldn’t help but look over Rex Methias’ eye-catching creations welded from iron and chain.

The couple has been visiting Art in the Park for several years and hit Hillsboro’s art fair as well.

“You never know, something could just say, ‘buy me,’ ” said Barbara.

Methias, a third-grade teacher at Nickerson Elementary said his first creation was a cat made from iron rebar he welded for his wife, Michelle, a Hesston High calculus teacher.

The couple wanted a side business to help supplement their income and put their sons through college, so he settled on selling his artwork.

“I did it in high school and loved it, so I just started doing it,” he said.

An alligator welded from heavy chain is his favorite piece so far.

He said he has great luck coming to Marion for about six years now – and this year was no exception.

“I set up last night, and it was perfect,” he said

Last modified Sept. 25, 2019