Heritage Brought Crafts And Glimpse Of Normal

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Planners of the 2020 Heritage Days were happy with the enthusiastic crowds that turned out for the event which took place on October 17 and 18. There were more crowds than expected, and fewer vendors, but more room for social distancing, and plenty of new vendors and crafts.
Carmen Mantonya, who works at Hawthorn Bank in Warsaw, went to Drake Harbor on Saturday afternoon and said that Heritage Days was a nice release from everything having to do with COVID-19.
“It was windy, but crafters stood it out, and the turnout of people was good,” said Mantonya. “I probably spent more time at the food vendors than at the craft booths, and had hamburger, rib and fries, funnel cake and lemonade.”
Some of the regular craft vendors were hesitant to take part this year because of COVID-19 risks, according to Nancy LaBonte, Director of the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce, and tasked with placing craft and direct sales vendors. But, she said that many others who had been waiting for a chance to set up booths came forward with new faces and new crafts. 
LaBonte said that there were between 145 and 150 vendors this year. Truman Lake Marine was included when it brought four boats to the Harbor for people to look at or buy.  It was estimated that about 235 vendors set up shop in the tents last year. There are usually three large tents to house vendors, but were only two this year.
“There was a conscious decision to spread vendor booths out in the large tents, and everyone seemed to appreciate it,” said LaBonte. “Saturday was a really great day for attendance. We had hand-made baskets, candy, scrubs and many other beautifully-made products.”
LaBonte said that there were a dozen golf carts driven by tireless volunteers from the Warsaw Leathernecks, and the routes were planned so that people could get rides to and from the Community Building, to and from Drake Harbor, as well as rides to their parked cars. She said that the Community Building vendors had a better year than ever in sales because of the new golf kart routes.
 “Our volunteers were wonderful,” said LaBonte. “Those from Opportunity Farm wore green shirts, and when the strong winds toppled some vendor tents and blew the tops off other booths, one of the Opportunity Farm volunteers yelled for everyone in a green shirt to head for the harbor to help with tents.”
Chuck Allcorn was in charge of food vendors for Heritage Days. He said that there were 10, instead of the usual 11 vendors, because one corn dog vendor decided to opt out.
“Having fewer food vendors worked pretty well,” said Allcorn. “We were having some electrical problems, but were able to supply what the 10 vendors needed. We hope to expand our food court next year which should be possible when the City of Warsaw updates the electrical panels.”
Allcorn said that some of the vendors have been doing what they do for a long time and are tough – they can handle anything. He said that when the top blew off of the Wine Slushes tent, the vendor said that was okay, that he would move the wine business to the half of the tent still in place.
Both Allcorn and LaBonte commented on the smiling faces of people having fun on Saturday. They said those happy people were their reward for all of the volunteer hours they had spent helping to plan an event that made everyone proud of the City of Warsaw. Both Allcorn and LaBonte love Warsaw and don’t seem to tire of making it even better.
St. Ann’s Catholic Church held its Bazaar on Saturday, October 17, as it usually does at the same time as Heritage Days. Volunteer Ellen Julius said that there was a pretty good stream of people on Saturday, even though the event had taken place in the Knight’s of Columbus building instead of the Catholic Church. However, she said that they were not able to have their spaghetti dinner, which disappointed a lot of people.