Crawfordsville celebrates 15th Bridge Day

Alex Paul

A cool breeze swept across the Crawfordsville Covered Bridge Saturday morning as vendors and neighbors gathered to celebrate the 15th annual community celebration.

The waters of the Calapooia River eased by the bridge offering a snapshot of life in the Willamette Valley.

Barbara Eberth of Brownsville was busy unloading flowers and plants donated by Gindhart Nursery as door prizes while others were setting up tables and putting out crafts ranging from metal artworks to wooden toys.

Eddie Bennett of Sweet Home had a broad array of metal artworks that he makes after his daily job with Sweet Home Sanitation.

“I’m hoping to make some money after I retire in a couple years,” Bennett said of his avocation. “I just look through magazines, see a picture I like and draw it on a piece of steel. I use a little plasma cutter and it works really great. I can even do the fine lines with it, something you can’t do with a torch.”

Bennett said the most popular items so far are elk, moose and deer on stands. “I’ve sold several of them,” he said.

With prices ranging from just $5 to $35, Bennett admits he hasn’t priced himself out of the market.

“It doesn’t usually take too long,” he said of working on each piece. “From the time I draw it until I cut it out and clean it up, it’s about an hour, I guess. That’s not too bad.”

Richard Gardner of Brownsville set up shop across the bridge from Bennett but deals in a different media: wood.

“I’ve been making wooden crafts since 1996 when I retired as a Navy cook,” Gardner said. “It’s a good hobby.”

Not that Gardner has a lot of time on his hands. The former submariner continues to cook at a retirement home in Albany and delivers the Oregonian in the Sweet Home area.

“My wife Lelani helps me with the crafts,” Gardner said. “She’s at the Celtic Festival in Sweet Home right now. We take different items up there.”

Gardner said Saturday was his third year at the Crawfordsville event.

Gardner says he loves being back in the Willamette Valley.

“I’ve been around the world but I don’t think there’s a better place to live than right here,” he said.

He says his craft work allows him to meet new people regularly.

“We do about 20 shows a year and we get to meet to many nice people,” Gardner said. “I also get to see what other crafts people are making.”

Gardner had a booth at the Arts and Crafts Festival during the Oregon Jamboree and said the hottest seller was the neck coolers.

“We sold 225 of them,” he said.

Nathan Jamison of Brownsville was busy trying to determine how he could stretch the limited amount of money in his pocket to buy as many of the items on hand as possible.

Sue Scott of Sweet Home showed Jamison several of the rubber stamps she had on display, but expected the Crawfordsville covered bridge stamp to be the big seller for the day.

“This is my second time here,” she said. “It seems like something else is always coming up. I probably draw about one-third of the designs for the stamps we sell.”

Senior Center volunteers sold raffle tickets for six for $5 on a quilt made by members.

“We hope to sell 1,000 tickets by December,” said Dennis Speck. “We’ll make it. We’ve already sold 800 of them.” Proceeds will benefit general operating expenses of the center.

Jean Baker represented the Sweet Home Genealogical Society, selling an historical throw blanket.

By noon, the once quiet bridge was buzzing with activity and the music of 2004 SHHS graduate Annamarie Wilson, who recently returned from a musical tour of Europe.