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April 6, 2014

30th annual Bloomin’ Festival greeted by great weather, big crowds

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky to be found as the 2014 Bloomin’ Festival began Saturday morning at St. Bernard Abbey. The warm sun and festivities brought hundreds of visitors to the campus for the 30th annual Festival.

Out-of-towners with license plates from Minnesota to New Jersey arrived to St. Bernard for the festival. The annual event will continue Sunday, with the private school hosting another fun-filled, family friendly day at the Abbey. Vendors from Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida and throughout the southeast also set up on the grounds.

Some vendors have caught on to the trend of out-of-state visitors, such as Gloria Simons from Montgomery. Simons has been a maker of stained glass for more than thirty years, and the front of her booth had a display of all 50 states in stained-glass form.

“I started off with my children: one was born in New Jersey and one was born in California, so I made them one each,” she said. “And then all my grandchildren were born in different states, and people said, ‘Oh, I’d like this one,’ and soon I was doing all 50.”

The different colors the states have are based on different features, Simons said. “I’ve looked up online; they all have something to do with either the state motto, the bird color, the tree ... and I pick the colors from that.”

“I had a red one [for Alabama], for the camillia, the state flower,” Simons said, saying all those had sold out. “The only reason Alabama had two colors was because diehard Auburn fans wouldn’t buy the red,” she added with a laugh.

Simons said her stained-glass panels were all one of a kind. “I don’t repeat; I love finding objects in antique stores and flea markets.”

“I do festivals and art fairs because I enjoy making glass and selling it; I love talking to people,” Simons said.

Another vendor, Falkville native Brian Greer and his wife, Paige, were selling coin jewelry. “It’s a combination of jewelry and free-forms,” Brian said.

Lining the 20-year vendors’ tables were bracelets made of flattened wheat pennies, quarters shaped into arrowheads and bracelets made of antique keys.

“We try to bring something new each year,” Paige said. This year, their Fun Co. brought cross jewelry and bracelets made out of silver spoons.

Among those attending the festival was Caroline Gandy. She came with a group from Huntsville to attend the Bloomin’ Fest for the first time.

“We had heard about how great the festival was,” Gandy said. She added that she had visited booths selling outdoor candles made from wine bottles and hand-made crosses.

“Bloomin’ Festival is all about accessorizing, whether it be your home, your family, your pets.” festival director Joyce Nix said. In sum, she said, “We’ve got something for everyone here.”

The Details

Gates open today 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is a $5 donation to the festival. Ave Maria Grotto

admission is $3 per person (today only).

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