Friday, September 24, 1999

Woman loves fest to the core

Historic downtown to teem with arts and crafts

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Fall puts a spring into Kathy Stine's step.

        After 20 years as the Lebanon Police Department's meter attendant, Mrs. Stine knows every crack in the pavement and every store owner in a seven-block area of the historic downtown.

        But each September for the past decade, the routine is interrupted.

        In addition to citing errant drivers who have forgotten to plug the meters or who have nudged a wheel onto the curb, Mrs. Stine watches for bees, scouts out potential parking hazards and mentally designs the layout for the annual Applefest.

        As chairwoman of the arts and crafts festival, she wants everything to go perfectly. And that requires a lot of work.

        So much that she typically takes a vacation week before the festival. Mrs. Stine oversees the delivery of canopies for some of the booths and of 1,575 pounds of ice. She makes sure the 11 portable toilets are in the right place, not camped out in front of somebody's porch.

        “I'm tired, but I'm happy,” Mrs. Stine said this week in the midst of planning for Saturday's festival.

        The Applefest began in the early 1980s, with the premise of drawing people to the historic district and celebrating the area's agricultural heritage.

        When a friend of a friend stepped down from headingthe Applefest committee a decade ago, Mrs. Stine took the helm.

        Each year adds a new pile of papers to the boxes of Applefest information. Mrs. Stine estimates she spends 360 hours a year preparing for the event, which can draw 30,000 visitors.

        On Sunday, Mrs. Stine expects the phone to ring from prospective vendors wanting to reserve a booth for next year. Spots for Saturday's event sold out in January. There are 25 people on the waiting list.

        The festival has gained a stellar reputation, in part because of its guidelines that all items be handmade.

        The 157 booths will offer a plethora of festival food fare and crafts. Mrs. Stine will run her own booth, showcasing her handiwork of woodcrafts and wreaths.

        “You don't make money on it,” she said. “But it's the compliments of people who say, "Wow, that's beautiful,' or "This is really nice,' that make it all worthwhile.”

        After a week of intense preparations and a festival day that will start at 6:30 a.m. and won't end until after dark, Mrs. Stine said Sunday, she'll “die a million deaths.”

        She plans to collapse into her rocking chair and watch football. And wait for the telephone to ring with questions about next year.


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- Woman loves fest to the core
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