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October 17 • 12:59 PM
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Great gourds coming to Imlay


1st annual festival celebrates the functionality, beauty of unique fruit



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September 15, 2010
IMLAY CITY — Ron and Deb Stallings' first attempt at organizing the Michigan Festival of Gourds has all the appearances of being a success.

More than 100 gourd classes are booked, popular musicians are scheduled to perform and vendors are still signing up for the three-day event to be held at the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds this weekend.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The Stallings, of Imlay City, promise that anyone who visits the gourd fest will never look at gourds in the same way again.

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Ron and Deb Stallings have pieced together a full schedule for the three-day festival.
"Most people think only of those tiny, ornamental gourds you see sold in the fall but there is this whole other world of hard shell gourds," Deb Stallings said.

"They are grown for function all over the world either as floats for someone's boat, as a canteen that carries their water or a bowl that stores their food."

Aside from utilitarian uses, gourds make fine musical instruments and are a unique canvas for artists.

Through a variety of classes, demonstrations and other activities, festival goers can learn more about this versatile fruit.

Registration for classes has passed but those who signed up will be learning everything from making paper out of gourd pulp to advanced woodburning techniques.

The unique gourd patch quilt will be on display all weekend too. It features more than 100 decorated gourd tiles from artists around the world.

Performances will come from folk musician and gourd banjo player Matt Watroba (1-2 p.m. Sat) and the Pena and Summers Percussion Ensemble (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4:30-5:30 p.m. Sat.) Storyteller Alfreda Harris will tell gourd tales on both Saturday and Sunday. At noon on Friday, Phil Moorehead of the Indiana Gourd Society will give a presentation on the use of gourds through history.

There's fun to be had at the Nasgourd Races too. The pinewood derby-like contest starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday. An American Gourd Society competition is also planned. Judging begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Vendors will be selling both dried and green gourds, seeds and plants, carving and wood burning tools, paints, stains, embellishments and much more. Gourd artwork including crafts and jewelry will be for sale.

Distinctive Catering will be serving up wholesome food throughout the weekend, including salads, wraps and more.

Other highlights include a 'Make and Take' craft for kids, farmers market, gourd art raffle, free demonstrations and more.

Admission is $5 per person. Kids 12 and under are free. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation.

For more information, visit

www.michiganfestivalofgourds.com

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.
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