2017 Georgia Gourd Society ‘Gourdfest’ this weekend

By Dennis McDonald
Georgia Gourd Society

The Georgia Gourd Society is sponsoring the 15th annual Gourd Art and Craft Show September 23 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and on September 24 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Griffin has become the home of this unique event for the past five years and interest in the gourd art and craft show is now drawing visitors from surrounding states. The humble gourd is gaining new attention in this modern age.

When Europeans first landed on the North American shore and made contact with Native Americans, they found extensive use of dried gourds as containers and utensils. This included using gourd bird houses to attract purple martins as a means of insect control, which is still practiced today in rural and residential settings.

But the history of gourds goes back eons before that. Imagine being an early human trying to survive in a primitive age thousands of years before the development of pottery or metals. You would be constantly on the move in a continuous search for food.

How do you carry your “stuff” with you? Stuff like water, food finds, or small possessions and supplies. What do you eat or drink from, and how do you keep things dry? Gourds met these needs for ancient man and were also used for ceremonial masks, jewelry, toys, hats, musical instruments, and more.

Because they were valued possessions, gourds were often decorated and embellished by early artisans with patterns and symbols of a culture’s identity. In many cases they became the art of a culture. Gourds still serve as a canvas for artistic expression in China, Peru and countries in Africa where the intricate skills of etching and pyrography (drawing with fire) on gourds continue to be passed down from generation to generation.

The appreciation of the gourd, and its novel use in arts and crafts, continues in this country through the work of the American Gourd Society. The Georgia chapter, and 25 other state chapters, are dedicated to keeping the historical legacy of this natural oddity alive. They do this by providing educational opportunities, activities and public exhibitions, like the 2017 Gourd Art and Craft Show.

It’s always been a great way to spend the day with friends or family, and many have discovered a rewarding new hobby. Held at the Kiwanis fair grounds at 1025 South Hill St., the venue is air conditioned, handicap accessible, and parking and admission are free. Details about this year’s Gourdfest with class information and registration, as well as pictures from past festivals, can be found on the gourd society’s web site at georgiagourdsociety.com.