Fall harvest: crafty goods, homemade foods

The Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair will include vintage and repurposed items this year.
The Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair will include vintage and repurposed items this year. Courtesy photo

Kerry Wiebe sells vintage items online every Friday, using Instagram to drive shoppers to her website for more photos and descriptions of toys, tools and home goods.

Twice a year, she invites other vendors to set up booths inside and around the barn on her family’s farm in Whitewater, about 30 miles north of Wichita. They sell arts, crafts and antiques – everything from jewelry and quilts to repurposed furniture and signs.

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She calls the events the Keriel Dairy Barn Sale. Keriel Dairy – pronounced Kerry-el, a mash-up of her first name and her husband Daniel’s first name – is the last remaining active dairy farm in Butler County, the state’s largest county by area.

September is the start of the fall arts and crafts fair circuit; you could hit a different one every weekend between now and November (see accompanying list). The Keriel Dairy Fall Barn Sale is 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14. While some of the largest arts and crafts events in the region draw tens of thousands, Wiebe wants to offer an intimate experience that’s as much about a day on the farm as it is a chance to see Pinterest-worthy Etsy craftsmakers in real life.

Baby calves are on display for kids to see, and visitors can go in the barn to see the milkers.

“We want you to bring your family and feel like you’re part of our family when you’re on our farm,” she said. Since starting in 2012, the barn sales have grown to nearly 40 vendors and hundreds of shoppers.

“We don’t charge admission so it’s hard to know for sure how many people we get but I know I make 1,000 cupcakes and the milkman makes enough lunch to serve 200 to 250, and we sell out of all our food,” said Wiebe, who calls her third-generation, dairy-farming husband the milkman.

Oh, and about that food: the milkman smokes pulled pork and makes sandwiches using his own barbecue sauce. He serves it with a side of his homemade pasta salad that leaves diners asking for – but not getting – the recipe of the dressing. “That sauce is so good you could drink it with a straw,” Wiebe said.

The couple enlists their five children, ages 7 to 20, and a loyal group of friends to help with the barn sale, including two days of baking and decorating 1,000 cupcakes in five different flavors: pumpkin, carrot, chocolate mocha, chocolate coconut and coconut cream.

Follow @KerielDairyBarnSale on Instagram or the event page at facebook.com/KerielDairy to see teasers of vendors who will be at the October event.

One of the earliest and largest of the region’s fall arts and crafts fairs happens 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 in Hillsboro, 50 miles north of Wichita. The Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair is in its 48th year and fills its entire seven-block downtown with 300 vendors. Organizers have worked through the years to avoid having a flea market atmosphere and instead use a jury to select artists and makers presenting original or handcrafted work. For the first time, they accepted some vendors selling vintage and repurposed items this year.

“We’ve looked for vendors who are not just reselling but they’ve done something to change a vintage item, upcycle it or repurpose it,” said Brenda Walls, a long-time vendor in her first year as the fair’s director. Walls credits Joanna Gaines of HGTV fame for fostering a market of shoppers looking for creative new uses of antiques and vintage items.

The addition of booths selling repurposed and upcycled home décor and furniture is the only major change in the event. Walls said her goal as the new director is to simply continue the community effort that started in 1970 and brings as many as 40,000 to a town with a population of 3,000.

Walls grew up in the area and said she has had a booth for at least 15 years, selling table-top trees made from hand-twisted, paper-covered wire adorned with handcrafted miniature clay ornaments. Her adult daughters will run the booth this year while she works to keep the fair running smoothly.

While vendors come from across Kansas and from Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Utah and Alabama, all of the prepared food concessionaires are local school, church and civic groups using the event as a fundraiser. In addition to traditional fair foods like kettle corn, funnel cakes and fresh-squeezed lemonade, the Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair honors its town heritage by serving Dutch-German cuisine. You’ll find bierocks, zwieback (two-story rolls described as looking like a snowman without the third piece), new years cookies (deep fried cookies sometimes with raisins), veranika (cottage cheese-filled pasta pockets) and Hillsboro’s smoked sausage.

“All of the German food is a big crowd pleaser but you’ll probably see the longest lines for Hillsboro’s famous sausage,” Walls said. “It’s not something you can get at your local Dillons. It’s a German sausage blended with our own spices. The Hillsboro Museums food vendor serves it on a stick for the fair, and you can also purchase it by the pound to take home from our local grocery store, Dale’s Supermarket.”

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