Folks get crafty on the Oregon Coast

The 17th annual Spring Arts & Crafts Festival took place Saturday and Sunday in Yachats at a former school now known as the Commons and used for just about everything.

Yachats, about 20 miles south of Newport, is the kind of place where you find people in tie-die shirts or long skirts selling everything from flavored vinegar and scented soaps to carved walking sticks and jewelry made out of shells and rocks. Walking down the aisles looking for Father’s Day and birthday presents, I saw racks made out of animal parts (including horns and feet), a ukelele made out of a tin can, and a woman spinning wool into yarn. The displays included lots of jewelry, photography, paintings, teas, chocolates, herbal remedies, crocheted items, books, glass, and wood. And oh yes, my friend Ruth whipped out her violin to play a duet of “You are My Sunshine” with the ukelele guy.

The big festivals in Yachats only happen a couple times a year. The fall event is perfect for Christmas presents. But we have weekly farmer’s markets in Yachats (Sundays, Fourth Street next to the Commons, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Waldport (Wednesdays, Community Center, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), Lincoln City (Sundays, Lincoln City Cultural Center, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and Newport (Saturdays at City Hall, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), where you can find many of the same items, plus locally grown produce and other great stuff to eat. People on the Oregon Coast are crafty, always making something out of whatever materials are at hand, especially when it’s raining outside. I wonder: Did they come here because they liked to do arts and crafts, or did they start doing arts and crafts because that’s what people do here? All I know is there’s nothing like it back in San Jose.

New Song Circle forms in Yachats

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Ever get the urge to sing or play music with other people without actually having to be a performer? Me too. I spend plenty of time with a microphone in front of my face, but it’s nice to just play and sing for the fun of it. That’s why I was happy to hear that my friend Stacey Smith was starting a new Song Circle in Yachats. She and I enjoyed a former song circle in Newport for a couple of years. We even formed a band called Just Smith with circle host Kurt Smith (not related to Stacey). We played at the Drift Inn and elsewhere until life got too complicated and we disbanded.

This was in the years when my husband Fred was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and the music provided much-needed relief from the burdens of living with that difficult and always fatal illness. We made new friends and made beautiful music. The love of music stayed with Fred right up to the end.
So what’s a song circle? People sit around in a circle and take turns leading songs or suggesting songs for someone else to lead. They may sing something that nobody else knows, maybe even an original song, but most of the time people suggest easy songs that everybody can join in with their voices and their instruments. Sometimes we have words and chords on handouts or in an encyclopedic songbook called Rise Up Singing. Sometimes we just listen and watch each other’s guitar-playing hands and follow along. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and if you don’t feel up to leading a song when your turn comes, you can pass. You can even just come to listen.
We had eight people for the first session, with two acoustic guitars and a violin, and we sounded pretty good. Stacey is planning to continue the song circles once a month. I’m looking forward to the next session on April 7 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Yachats Commons, Highway 101 and West 4th Street, Room 8. If you’re in the area and feeling musical on a Sunday afternoon, come try it out.
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