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Festival celebrates local makers

Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church was transformed into the Suffolk Earth and Arts Festival on Saturday morning.

The rear parking lot was filled with more than 70 vendors selling their own products and educating patrons, and inside the church were six workshops for anyone to attend.

“We love Suffolk, so we wanted to create a platform for creators to share their work without incurring a cost,” said festival co-founder Meredith Alphin. “We wanted to build a community.”

There were vendors for almost every product — handmade goat milk soap, fresh eggs, paintings and jewelry — and most of the vendors are Suffolk natives.

Lone Sycamore Farm was at the festival to sell its goat milk soap, but the vendor also had three of its own baby goats on hand for the crowds to enjoy.

“We’ve had goats for the last four years,” said Scott Richardson. “We started making goat milk soap because we had all this goat milk, and we couldn’t drink it all.”

Richardson and his wife, Carrie, enjoy coming to these festivals as a vendor because of the interaction with other people, but it also gives them a chance to show the baby goats they have for sale.

Their goat milk soap is currently for sale in This and That in downtown Suffolk, and they are working to have the soap sold in other stores.

The festival is also a good chance for new vendors to spread the word about their business and learn more from other vendors.

Melissa Eggen, co-owner of Silver Fox, recently moved to Suffolk, and the Earth and Arts Festival was the first one she has attended in Virginia.

“I just moved, and I saw the festival and figured I would try it out,” said Eggen. “My sister and I already made our bath products, and we figured we could sell it.”

Eggen is happy to go to the festivals to get helpful tips from other vendors and meeting people to talk to.

Not every vendor had something that could be purchased. Other groups were there to get their message to those attending.

Alton’s Keep, King’s Fork High School Ecology Club, Virginia Master Naturalists and other specialty groups were in attendance.

Alton’s Keep had three owls with them so they could educate those that came to visit. One of the owls perched in a tree watching as everyone went by, and Jay Ovgeron held Dixie, one of their education ambassador owls, and let children pet her as they talked about Alton’s Keep.