TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Gourd Patch Festival, Mayfield, Kentucky

Photos courtesy of Bob Davis

The days are still warm and pleasant here in Western Kentucky, but Summer has officially ended and signs of Fall and colder weather begin to manifest themselves. Leaves start to turn, night comes a bit quicker, that tell-tale chill in the morning... yep. The cold is on its way here.

With the change of season comes harvest and bountiful, beautiful pumpkins and gourds. A couple of my Paducah Fiber Artists friends and I took a trek to attend the Gourd Patch Festival in nearby Mayfield, Kentucky. What a wonder!

I've seen gourds before and plenty of pumpkins. But, I don't think I've seen so many varieties, such vibrant colors and all that texture!

We learned that the gourds are dried by leaving them on the vine, in the field, and the ones that survive the elements will make good gourds for craft use. I picked a few that I want to experiment using henna designs:

There was plenty to do at the festival as it featured gourd vendors, craft booths, a Gourd-mobile derby (!!!), food concessions, live music, a hay-bale maze, with the day ending in a ghost walk at a nearby cemetery (we didn't stay for that!).

Vendors definitely had a brisk business!

David Meeks from the Pumpkin Barn sells raw
gourds and these birdhouses he makes.

Paula Martin, of Nashville, Tennessee, looked around,
getting ideas for what she was going to make with the gourds she bought.

Many of the crafts were season oriented with Halloween, Fall and Christmas decorations in mind.

Others were quite lovely, appropriate for year round use.

Murray State University's Gourd Percussion Band tried really hard to make a commotion (they could have used some mikes...), but they were cute and darling.

My friend, Bob, posed for a portrait:

A great likeness in my opinion!

The Ice House Gallery (Yep! It really was an ice house way back when...) sheltered the masterpieces by gourd artists from all over the country.

It's amazing what different people came up with! Pigs, dragons, presidents, and intricate ornamental work revealed themselves through this gourd art.

At the back of the Ice House Gallery, there is a little shop and an art room for classes. I enjoyed speaking with one of the local artists (the guy who made the dragon).

We rushed out because we didn't want to miss the Gourd Mobile Derby. Our friend, Margaret had been volunteering inside, while her husband, Fred, also a gourd artist, got all the gourd cars ready for the big competition. For weeks before, kids prepared for this event by getting their spiffed up gourd cars ready. The base is from a kit, the same on all of them, but the top is up to the artist.

As you can see, some stayed close to traditional car designs, while others went wild with their imagination:

The cars are raced, three at a time on this special track. It was surprising to see which ones got the best umph!

We loaded up our pumpkins and gourds with ideas spinning around in our heads of what we might be able to create with these wonderful shapes! I'm sure there will be some tasty pies coming up in the next few weeks as well. Yum, yum!

The Exhibit at the Ice House Gallery continues through October 11. That's at the Mayfield/Graves County Art Guild, 120 North Eighth Street, Mayfield, KY 42066. If you are a gourd artist and would like to submit your work next year ($1,000 award!!!), you can contact Dana Heath at icehouse@wk.net, 270-247-6971. They accept work from all over the United States.

The Mayfield Gourd Patch Festival is sponsored by the City of Mayfield, the Mayfield Tourism Commission, and the Mayfield/Graves County Art Guild. See www.icehousearts.org for more information.



  1. What gorgeous, gorgeous gourds! And gorgeous gourd photos, too! BTW, pumpkin soup made with Red Khouri pumpkin/gourd is fabulous. Good recipe in The Joy of Cooking. :-)

  2. Great photos and a perfect post for the change of seasons. Love the birdhouse!

  3. Looks like a very fun festival!

    I love the 2nd gourd pictured. It looks as though it is covered in barnacles.


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“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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