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Fall festival taking shape Sept. 6-7 for final year

Don Hall expects to have about 2,000 to 3,000 people wandering around his yard on Sept. 6 and 7.

Huntingdon Farm Pottery, which is also Hall and his wife Karen's home just outside of Star Prairie, will host the annual Fall Arts and Crafts Festival for the 28th straight - and final - year.

"A lot of people really enjoy coming here," Hall said. "Vendors say there's a different atmosphere here. That's what I'll miss the most."

Setting up is getting too tough for Hall and his helpers, especially after his bouts with back surgery.

Getting enough of his work ready for the big day takes a lot of effort, too.

"Lately, I've been throwing a couple hundred pots a week," he said.

Hall said his good run with the Festival is thanks to all the volunteers he's had and the support of Karen.

"Without her (Karen), it wouldn't have been possible," he said.

Hall expects to have about 18 vendors at the Festival this year. To be a vendor, artists must sell their own handmade wares.

Some of the vendors who have already committed to the Festival make things such as baskets, wood toys, rugs, Ukrainian eggs, jewelry, candles, fiber products and paintings.

And, of course, Hall will sell his own pottery. All of his work is wheel-thrown and fully functional. They are dishwasher, microwave and oven safe.

The highest price for a piece is about $40, Hall said.

"Everybody tells me I don't charge enough," he said. Similar pieces go for nearly twice as much in the Cities.

Also included in the weekend's events will be live demonstrations in blacksmithing and using a foot-powered wood lathe.

Carrie Fellman, who Hall calls "a strolling minstrel-ess," will entertain the crowd with live guitar music.

Hall said a major attraction to the event is Karen's homemade bread, which she cooks in an outdoor brick oven.

"That's what brings people every year," he said.

Although attendance at art fairs has been down over the last few years, Hall said he expects a good turnout.

"Since it's the last one, I think a lot of people will come out," he said.

The Festival and his studio have been quite an accomplishment for Hall, who didn't throw his first pot until he was 38 years old.

Hall said he had never been involved in art until he went back to school in 1969. He found that he only needed a few more art credits to get a humanities degree.

After taking a few watercolor classes, Hall said he was more willing to experiment in the art world.

"It freed me up to do other things. Pottery stuck," he said.

After graduating and struggling to find a career in the business world, Hall and Karen decided he should become a full time potter.

"It was quite a change in lifestyle," he said.

They hosted the first Fall Festival in 1975. That one had five vendors spread out in the front lawn and a bluegrass band from the high school provided the entertainment.

Now Hall has a mailing list of around 2,400 people. People come from as far as Missouri and Washington state.

Although the Festival is ending, Hall plans to keep making and selling his pottery. He's planning to try a few new techniques in glazing.

With five wheels and a head full of knowledge, Hall is also considering teaching again, as he did in the 1980s.

"I've had a lot of inquiries about classes," Hall said.

In the end, Hall said he's pleased with the choices he and Karen have made.

"I don't have any regrets," he said.

The Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, and Sunday, Sept. 7. Vendors will accept cash and checks only. To get there, take Hwy 65 North for four miles, then turn west onto County Rd H for one mile to number 1292.