WEST SPARTA — A small child leans in to pet a baby goat, a scottish ballad can be heard across the field, and a Civil War soldier stands proud with his musket.
This sort of magic can only be found at a country festival. The Sixth Annual West Sparta Old Fashioned Days was packed with reenactors,vendors, activities, games, and community supporters on July 30.
Trista Teitsworth, like many others in the area, grew up on a dairy farm. She has recently gotten involved with the Mustang Heritage Foundation to rescue Mustangs. However, she has been training horses since she was 15. The 23-year-old had her first Mustang, Boss Hog, with her at the festival this year.
“This is my third time coming here,” she said. “I love it here. I came here with me friend, Emma, last year, and now I am here alone.”
Teitsworth loves rescuing Mustangs.
“I love to rescue Mustangs,” she said. “I think it is a great program, and it gets their (Mustangs) name out there. Not many people know much about them. I don’t think people understand how prominent they are.”
Boss Hog came from Pennsylvania, one came from Massachusetts, and this year Teitsworth will be heading to Virginia for her third Mustang.
“Once you bond with the horse and get their trust you will have a friend forever,” she said. “The challenge is to get their trust, and it is a rough road getting there. It will be worth it in the end.”
The vendors were a mix of designers, artists, farmers, jewelry, and much more.
Gates Shadows owner Cindy Gates has done arts and crafts her whole life, but has recently gotten a knack for cross-stitching silhouettes.
“I can do anything from a photo,” Gates said. “I get the image in my head that I want it to be, and I start to stitch. When I first started doing this I didn’t know how it would turn out.”
Most of her work is a one-of-a-kind, but for veterans and firefighters she has done duplicates.
Gates is a huge fan of Humphrey Bogart, and her favorite piece is of the iconic movie stars Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn.
“I try to make it reasonable,” Gates said about her prices. “I have been to a lot of art festivals where everything is so expensive.”
Her custom 5x7 stitches are $50 and her custom 8x10 stitches are $100 both with frames. Without frames they are a little cheaper.
This area is also known for its maple syrup products.
Two Creeks Farm owner Barry Pratt has been interested in making his own maple syrup since he was 12 years old.
“I have been doing this most of my life,” he said. “My dad told me we could do it as long as I could find a pan. My neighbor had stopped doing maple syrup, so I asked if we could use his. We started making our own maple syrup.”
Pratt has 700 taps now, and comes up with new ways to use his syrup. This year he came up with maple peanuts, and is the only one who makes maple honey. Pratt is also the only one in the area that makes maple cheesecake.
“I usually make 100 to 150 gallons a year, but this year was bad for me. I only made 30 gallons this year,” he said. “There was no snow cover. We need to freeze and thaw in order to keep going.”
The 140th New York Volunteer Infantry had Civil War and Civilian Camps set up at the festival. These reenactors get to travel all over, and many have been doing it all of their lives.
Vietnam Veteran, Steve Meitzler, has been doing reenactment of World War One, World War Two, and Civil War for several years.
“I have always been interested in history,” he said. “I have always been passionate about World War One and knew a lot of them, and my father fought in World War Two.”
“I got interested in the Civil War when I found out women could do them too,” Meitzler continued. “I wanted my wife to be able to participate with me. In Civil War Reenactment you can bring the entire family to be part of the Civilian Camps.”
This is essentially a living history, and Meitzler said he is proud to be part of it.
“I like when we get to set up for battles everyday, and President Abraham Lincoln shows up,” he said. “We get to model actual camps, buildings, and battles from that time. You have to go to Gettysburg or Mumford if you really want to see what it is like.”
Meitzer likes learning about the history of the area they set up in.
“A lot of people like to get involved in Civil War Reenactment since it is the most authentic,” he said. “We are always recruiting, and like to get the whole family involved. Anyone interested in joining us can go to our website. Women and children can be in the Civilian Camps, a boy age 12 can be a drummer, and at 16 he can be a soldier if his parents are involved.”
You can visit http://www.140thny.org/ for more information.
No matter how old you are there is something for everyone at a good old fashioned country festival.