At the beginning of spring. the little country town of Laidley, in the Lockyer Valley, Queensland, opens its doors for their Annual Spring Festival. There are open gardens, entertainments, floral art displays, fine art shows, and all manner of crafting to grab the attention of visitors. The open gardens are mostly accessible for a couple of weeks while the arts and crafts exhibitions, which are held in various locations throughout the town, are condensed into a four-day viewing.
The first time I went to the Laidley Spring Festival I went along to the Quilt and Craft Expo held in the Uniting Church, and I’ve been going back ever since. There is some other really good craft markets in town but for me this one of my favourites. It just has a certain ambiance that appeals to me. The entire church buildings and grounds are turned over to crafts displays and sale tables, and a large marque to feed hungry tourists that turn up in the bus loads. I went along this year and I got so engrossed into talking with vendors and crafters that I left myself short on time to get to some of the other great spots. Not that I’m complaining, because I got to meet some really great people and hear their stories about their work.
First, lets me talk about the quilt show. As you approach the old wooden church building you know you’re in for a quilting treat when you can peek inside and see quilts covering every wall. And that’s just the foyer! Once inside there are quilts hanging from the rafters and draped over pews. It’s not like a more traditional show where every quilt has room to be fully opened out and you get to view it from several paces away. Here you get to walk in and around them and there is only one place to stand for viewing, and that’s up close. It’s only a small church but they pack in a lot of quilts.
The altar was cleared and given over to a display of a wide variety of handcrafts, including embroidery, doll making, miniatures, knitting and more quilts. I got to meet the woman who crocheted some of the garments including the floor length bridal gown on the manikin, which I was most fascinated with. I dream one day to have a crochet dress made for me. The back room is given over to a doll maker, Margaret. First time I went to A Laidley Spring Carnival I bought one of her little bisque dolls, a boy, which she had knitted an adorable three-piece outfit with very fine needles and yarn. Her corner looks like a crafting Aladdin cave for doll making as she works her magic onto a new doll or outfit right there at the table.
The church hall is filled with a mini market with a variety of handmade goodness, as well as the occasional crafter in action. There was a wood turner turning, who makes those really handy capped wooden needle holders for those long sewing needles. One lady was forming pieces of clay into poppy shapes, while another was getting her sewing machine set up for another embroidery project. There was also a stall outside that was really hands on with visitors invited to get involved with a make-and take card making project. There were a mixture of stalls supporting either small cottage businesses, special interest groups or fundraising.
At the end of my time there I had a small stash of purchases from the visit, I bought a couple of packs of crocheted flowers, a pair of tiny crocheted socks for a doll, a vintage Czech glass button, a small pot of paint, a set of second-hand alpha dies and my free make-and-take card. I’m still wondering if I should have bought that glazed mini pottery cat too. There is always that one thing that sticks in my mind long after I leave.
I wasted no time putting a couple of those crocheted flowers to use, pinning them into my hat with my other flowers. You can also see a vintage Czech button on the blue flower I bought from the button seller at a previous festival. I’m a repeat customer. Every year I buy another button.
If you’re in South East Queensland in early September then Laidley Spring Festival is worth the drive to attend. The Uniting Church Quilt and Craft Expo is only just a small part of whats on offer for visitors for the Festival weekend. Have you ever turned up for the Festival, and if you did, what was your favourite thing to see or do?