By Hannah Gordon, @hannahgeeh
ELLICOTTVILLE, N.Y. (Oct. 13) — The last leaves of Ellicottville’s 38th Annual Fall Festival drifted to the pavement this evening. This year, EVL offered wonderful family entertainment including the village street festival and vendors, carnival rides for children, chairlift rides at Holiday Valley, live bands, and, of course, plenty of food.
Vendors came from far and wide to showcase their crafts in EVL.
Vickie LaRocque, owner of Victoria’s Designs Artisan Jewelry, began making jewelry for herself about 10 years ago. She didn’t consider her hobby as a business option until one of her coworkers asked her to bring her handmade earrings into work.
Vickie LaRocque photo by Hannah Gordon
“I sold 50 pairs right off my desk and thought, ‘I could make this into a real business,’” said LaRocque. She had enjoyed Fall Fest for many years on her own but after she started her business, LaRocque decided to participate as a vendor.
Debbie Dechert, owner of Deb’s Delights, a homemade canned good business, that sells everything from chili sauces to jams, has set up shop at Fall Fest for about 15 years.
Deb’s Delights photo by Hannah Gordon
“I love coming down here; it’s a beautiful ride,” Dechert said. “Although it’s my job, it’s wonderful to be outside here. It’s amusing to just watch the people when you have time.”
Other businesses involved in Fall Fest, like Tangled Twigs, The Purple Doorknob, and Flurry and Co., are permanent residents of EVL.
MJ Brown, owner of Tangled Twigs, a home accessory shop, tried to enjoy the festival despite the enormous amount of work it can be.
Tangled Twigs photo by Hannah Gordon
“I really like the change of seasons,” Brown said. “It’s so pretty down here. The festival is just a lot of work and there (are) a lot of people in town. This year’s been pretty good, but in past years it’s been difficult.”
Urania Shaklee, owner of The Purple Doorknob, a unique sock shop, shared Brown’s dislike for the amount of work Fall Fest can require.
Urania Shaklee photo by Hannah Gordon
“My least favorite thing is naturally the work,” Shaklee said. “It’s a lot of work for any small boutique business. We have one employee working at a time on any given day, but for Fall Fest, we’ve had five or six employees at a time certain years.”
The work paid off for Shaklee when she sees customers interact with her merchandise.
“Every year we try to increase our product that we have our in our tent, as well as in our store,” she said. “I like to see how excited people get about the socks that I sell. We get to really show off our colorful array of socks outside in our tent. People just see them and smile, laugh and have fun with them. They pick out things for their friends personalities. That’s really a joy.”
The owner of Flurry and Co. was busy with customers, but the store manager, Haley Moberg, was happy to talk about their first Fall Fest experience.
“We just opened up here at the end of July. We moved here from Wilson, N.Y., where we only had a seasonal location,” Moberg said, “ We wanted a place that was more year-round and Ellicottville was perfect for us. It has the same clientele; it’s more touristy, but we do have regular locals that come in, you get to meet new people all the time.”
Unlike some of the other vendors, Moberg loved the heavy workload Fall Fest brings.
“My favorite part so far is just how busy it is,” Moberg said, “The time goes by so fast. Working twelve hours yesterday was nothing.”
Whether the shops enjoy it or not, the streets of EVL are sure to be busy for many years to come with Fall Fest newbies and seasoned veterans.
Bonnie and Gary Carter, a couple from Eden, N.Y., have been attending Fall Fest for about six years. They camp with friends within walking distance of the festival. This year, Bonnie’s favorite part of the EVL experience was going up to Holiday Valley to ride the chairlift and seeing the beautiful scenery. Gary, a man of simple wishes, just enjoyed getting away from the daily grind.
“Anytime I can go camping just to get out of the house and away from work—it’s great,” Gary said.
Fall Fest is much more than just shopping and drinking. It wakes up the quiet ski-town called Ellicottville. It celebrates the autumnal scenery. It brings people together to appreciate each other, party, and explore artisan crafts and charming boutiques. Fall Fest 2013 was a definite success.