Kenyon Priester started showing his eco-friendly custom woodworking at flea markets and art shows about five years ago, saying it saved his business, Kenyon Woodworking.
It also brought him the second place award during the Huntley Artfest juried show this weekend. Priester said successful sales made the festival well worth his time. Before leaving the grounds, he submitted his application for next year.
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In its second year, Huntley Artfest drew more than 4,000 people during the two-day event -- doubling its attendance from last year, said Pat Parr, co-chairwoman of the art festival's organizing committee.
Because of the festival's growing popularity, Parr said the committee is eyeing a bigger stage and more space for future festivals.
"I am just super pleased," Parr said. "We put in so much work from February on planning and it's turned out just perfect."
Huntley Artfest is organized by volunteers from the First Congregational United Church of Christ on the church grounds in downtown Huntley. The festival features almost 50 booths filled with work by artists from across the region and the United States, along with food vendors and local dancers, singers and musicians.
Artists specializing in everything from photography to painting display and sell their work. Priester made his woodwork pieces using almost entirely recycled material -- everything but the finish and glue. Using wood from old barns or homes, scraps from other craftsmen, or trees that were knocked down in storms, Priester can feel less guilt about the waste of his industry and also pass on his savings to customers.
More and more, Priester said he connects with clients at weekend shows, where he has noticed a surge of interest from artists that he attributes to the economy.
"It gives people another way to make money when they can't find work," Priester said.
Mary Lestina, of McHenry, left the festival excited about her purchases, including candle holders and a bowl from Honey Bee Gourds of Genoa City, Wis. Lestina walked through the art show with her three sisters, one of whom lives in Huntley. They admired the artwork in all of the booths, enjoyed the live band, and ate some ice cream. They said they liked having a good-sized art show close to home.
"It's a nice way to spend a few hours in the afternoon," Lestina said.