Harvest Festival set to bring local and regional talents, crafts to Las Vegas

Many tourists think of Las Vegas as the home of glitz and glamour, not homemade arts and crafts. For at least one weekend each year, denim, handcrafted items and music played on the banjo and washboard return to the Cashman Center, 850 Las Vegas Blvd. North.

The Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show comes to town Sept. 5-7.

“We get 17,000 to 20,000 visitors each year,” said Brenda Meehan, who has been handling information for the event for more than 20 years. “With all the problems the economy has had, it’s good to see a staple like the harvest festival going strong.”

The local event is the kickoff for a regional Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show tour, which brings crafts from the West Coast along with local businesses’ handcrafted products.

“We’re going to be there with bells on,” said Shirl Moyer of Sweet Bubble Bath Confections, a local company that creates unusual soap products. “We don’t miss the Harvest Festival. It’s a great show.”

Sweet Bubble is owned and operated by Moyer’s two daughters, Sue Johnson and Mary Romero, and her daughter-in-law, Debbie Moyer. They create boutique soap shaped and scented like sweet baked goods. The products are handcrafted at the company’s store at Town Square Las Vegas, 6569 Las Vegas Blvd. South.

“I don’t think we’ve ever missed a year,” Shirl Moyer said. “We do well there, and the people who come to the festival are just great.”

At least 18 local businesses plan to have booths at the festival, including custom-made dog collars and leashes by Jeweled Leathers, potpourris and fragrance oils by Nevada Smells and makeup bags by Showgirl Bags.

Along with food and crafts, the festival has a full performance schedule on stage and by strolling entertainers.

“This is my 24th year doing the Harvest Festival,” said Sue Kroninger, who coordinates the performers and performs as Big Mama Sue with her partner “Fast Eddie” Erickson at the festival. “We do early American jazz and ragtime-era stuff.”

Kroninger brings along some performers through most of the nine-city tour but also tries to hire regional talent.

For strolling entertainment in Las Vegas, she brought in longtime local cowboy stilt walker W.C. Willy and a recent transplant to Las Vegas, juggler Chuck Guntar.

Visiting performers include The Fargo Brothers, who play a set including music by ZZ Top and songs such as “The Mule Skinner Blues” by The Fendermen. The brothers are scheduled to swap out stage time with John Park the Funny Waiter.

“John is sort of a throwback to the kind of entertainment they used to have on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ ” Kroninger said. “He’s a plate twirler, and he’s very interactive. He brings audience members up on stage. People love him.”

The Harvest Festival Original Art & Craft Show is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 5 and 6 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 7 at Cashman Center. Tickets are good for all three days and are $9 for general admission, $7 for seniors and $4 for youths ages 13-17. For more information, visit harvestfestival.com.

Contact East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 702-380-4532.

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