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Old-fashioned fun

Scattered showers Saturday didn't stop the Eagle Point community from celebrating the old ways at the ninth annual Vintage Faire.

Artisans of all stripes shared their craft with new generations at the fair, which also included vendors displaying antiques and food booths serving up country cooking.

As the Old Time Fiddlers performed in a courtyard behind him, Doug Peterson shared his antique rope-making machine and helped kids make their own rope to take home.

Cande Burch of Eagle Point watched with her grandsons Jeremiah, 5, and Jeremy, 3, as Peterson demonstrated his hand-crank machine patented in 1901 that uses gears to twist twine and white yarn into sturdy ropes with a blue and white pattern.

It was the kids' last stop before heading to the bounce castle, but Peterson captured Jeremiah's interest with a static electricity lesson attracting a piece of yarn to his hand. Once Peterson had the kids' attention, the children took turns twisting the crank.

Burch says she makes it to the Vintage Faire regularly, but attending this year was especially important because she wanted to support efforts to rebuild the Butte Creek Mill, which kicked off fundraising at the festival. The historic flour mill burned to the ground on Christmas Day after an electrical malfunction in the milling room.

Dale Diebold and Marvin Crawford, of the Rogue Valley Leather Guild, created an area at their tent for kids to try their hand at leathercraft using a variety of stamps and tools, charging a quarter for each leather piece. Crawford said they used to give the leather crafts away, but would find them at other fairs on the ground.

"We found if we charge a quarter people keep 'em," Crawford said.

Diebold said he started the club about 12 years ago as a way to get others interested in the craft. Outreach, especially to young people, is important to Diebold and Crawford, who want to pass on their knowledge. 

"It's a lost art basically," Crawford said. "All the older good ones are dying away."

Leather craft tends to be a labor of love rather than a profitable one. For example, to make a belt in the traditional fashion takes roughly 10 hours.

Crawford enjoys seeing the progress he's made since 2001, when he started learning from Diebold how to make a knife sheath for his brother. Signing and dating the work shows his progress.

"Then you'll know you're always improving," Crawford said.

Dale Somers of Medford sat on a lawn chair next to his 1920 Economy gasoline engine as tractor enthusiasts and passers-by shot the breeze. The 7-horsepower engine, weighing 1,315 pounds, was once used for heavy machinery before power grids and electric motor technology took its place. 

Somers currently owns five antique engines and has owned as many as 13 at once. He says he's not a collector, he just likes working on the old engines because they're a challenge. If a part fails, it's up to him to use a lathe or work with a fabricator to replace it.

Blacksmith Roy Dunn of Olde Town Smithy stamped, hammered, twisted and chiseled pieces of raw steel heated to a glowing hot 1,800 degrees in a forge before showing his wall-mounted J-hook.

It was the fourth year Dunn and his wife, Dixie Nunez, have attended. Nunez remembered their first year Roy brought a coal forge, which made thick smoke and couldn't be cooled with water without damaging it. So they had to wait.

"We had to sit here for four or five hours before we could go home," Nunez recalled. This year Dunn brought his smallest forge, heated by propane.

Dunn said he's been forging since 1998, and although at Vintage Faire he harkens back to the craft's early days, his "bread-and-butter" are edge weapons such as knives, swords and axes meant for renaissance festival and fantasy enthusiasts.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Dale Diebold, with the Rogue Valley Leather Guild, demonstrates leather tooling during the annual Vintage Faire in Eagle Point on Saturday. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch