HOMER — The Holiday in Homer event Saturday afternoon brought to the Village Green the types of clothing, accessories, food and fun residents who’ve attended the annual craft and arts festival at least once over the past 35 years have come to expect.
While the carefully crafted quilts, sweet-smelling soaps and other handmade products from more than 100 vendors were a big draw for most people, others were being entertained — and even doing a bit of learning — in between shopping as the event progressed.
While people quietly admired the quilts draped over the balcony inside the Homer Congregational Church next door, in the Homer H. Jones Memorial Building, Dan “The Snake Man” Chase brought along his scaly pets to educate and entertain the kids.
Tiernyn Robbins, 13, was becoming fast friends with a western hognose snake before she was taken by surprise when a crested gecko leapt off Chase’s shirt and onto hers.
At the same time, Robbins’ friend 14-year-old, Chelsea Bush, was getting to know one of Chase’s signature pets, a Burmese python measuring more than 6 feet long.
“It’s actually cooler than I thought it was going to be,” Bush said, adjusting the huge snake on her shoulders.
Chase said the level of interest from both kids and adults is what makes attending events like the Holiday in Homer exciting, adding in addition to some arts and crafts, he wants people to walk away with something less tangible: encounters with creatures they didn’t expect to have.
“It’s one of those things where you never get too old to learn and to experience things,” he said.
Outside, in the center of all the commerce and trade, the Jeff Love Band from Ithaca kept heads nodding and toes tapping with their covers of funk and jazz hits, providing a unique, light, but energetic soundtrack to the afternoon people of all ages seemed to enjoy.
“We’re always interested making the crowd live, getting them jumping, getting them dancing,” lead singer and band leader Jeff Love said after the performance. “We chose a set that was conducive to that. I know the people really enjoyed us and we enjoyed them.”
Those who weren’t already moving along to the rhythm of the music were mesmerized by possibly the simplest thing on display at the entire Holiday in Homer: bubbles.
Mingling among the smells of caramel corn and barbecue that filled the air were bubbles of all sizes coming from the The Bubble Circus, a one-man show put on by professional entertainer Doug Rougeux.
Having performed with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Rougeux incorporated miming, juggling and of course, bubbles into his act, which had children running in circles trying to pop the soapy spheres.
Five-year-old Tiffany Marie Foster form Cincinnatus drew applause from the crowd. She giggled as she was draped in an oversized jacket, bowler hat and pair of glasses. Rougeux had put his hands through the sleeves of the jacket to make it seem like she was juggling.
After his big “bubble finale,” where he used a string attached to long sticks to make huge bubbles, he stuck around to make bubbles with the kids and let them play with some wands and a foam maker he used in the show.
Rougeux said he always looks forward to the the Holiday in Homer event because of the people and the atmosphere.
“It just always goes well down here in Homer,” he said.