Scott and Cindy Sommer’s wind chimes stand out in the crowded marketplace of Kirksville’s Red Barn Arts and Crafts Festival. Their melodic sounds are produced by glass beads and antique silverware that clink against each other in the chilly breeze. The chimes hang from tea kettles, pots or even kerosene lamps that can still be lit.
“The part that’s the most fun is finding the stuff,” Scott said. “We go as far as Tennesse, Iowa, Illinois, all over Missouri.”
For Scott, the chimes represent not only a creative outlet but also a turning point in his life.
“Nine years ago, I got injured really bad,” Scott said. “I was a mechanic all my life, and I couldn’t work on cars any longer. My back was destroyed. So all I had was Social Security.”
Scott and his wife, Cindy, thought crafting might be a way to earn some extra money. They visited craft fairs, wanting to make something that no one else would be selling. Eventually, they came up with the idea for the wind chimes.
“We’ve had a lot of people try to copy them, but they don’t make them the same way,” Scott said.
Scott and Cindy design and assemble the wind chimes together, selecting each bead and piece of silverware individually. Scott said he will sometimes hold on to pieces he wants to use for several months before deciding where to include them.
“It has to be done right, in the right way, so it takes a long time to figure it out,” Scott said.
The Sommers’ booth was one of 107 clustered in downtown Kirksville for the annual event’s 44th year. Hundreds of people visited the event, which also included food trucks and live music.
The cold and cloudy weather did not dampen the crowds at the festival or the spirits of the vendors.
Dorothy Lane of Country Lane Crafts from Mediapolis, Iowa, works year-round on her seasonal fall and Christmas crafts and only goes to fall craft shows. She said she enjoys coming back to Red Barn every year.
“It’s always a good crowd, and it’s people that come to buy,” Lane said. “It’s a good show for me.”
Sue Ragan of Bead Corner and Pat Wobbe of Spindleweb came to the festival together from Harrisburg, where they display their items at Wobbe’s shop. Ragan makes handmade jewelry, Wobbe makes ceramics and both knit. It was their first year at Red Barn.
“I was a nurse, labor and delivery, for 35 years,” Ragan said. “I retired and I’ve been doing this as a hobby ever since. It’s relaxing, and you get to be creative.”
Steve and Debbile Moehlman of Wapello, Iowa co-run their business S&D Candles — he makes the candles, and she makes flower arrangements. They’ve both been selling their wares at Red Barn for the past seven years.
“We really enjoy coming down here and doing the show,” Debbie said. “It’s one of our biggest events of the year for candles.”
Devon Williams, the event’s chair, said the weekend’s gloomy weather prediction was “daunting” and the festival did end up closing half hour early due to the prospect of a storm.
“I couldn’t be happier with the turnout and the exhibitors, and I think we had a successful event this year,” Williams said.