Saturday was a little cold and rainy but lots of folks I know said they went. I waited till Sunday when the weather was supposed to be a little nicer.
I went at 11 a.m. and there were tons of people out there already.
As I walked up I smelled that kettle corn and y’all my mouth started watering. That sweet and salty combo is irresistible.
But I didn’t wanna just stand there and stuff my face JUST YET. I wanted to check out all the arts and crafts.
As usual, there were rows and rows of tents with artists and crafters displaying all sorts of beautiful things. As I walked to the different tents and talked to some of the vendors I asked where they were from and it’s so great to hear when they say they’re from right here in Rome. We’ve got some talented folks around here.
I saw Lisa Ingram selling her beautiful pottery including these amazing little nativity scenes she creates. And Ryan and Tricia Smith with their beautiful photos of Rome scenes. Tom Canada was there with his wood carvings as well as Jennifer McNeil and her very pretty decorative crafts.
What I liked is that there were also some pretty really unique items. There was a guy selling those little bonsai plants and trees and people selling the coolest metal ornaments and signs.
There were two vendors I visited for the first time. The first was Sweet Crumb Company out of Taylorsville. This lady had the most amazing looking cookies and homemade marshmallow. I didn’t even know you could make marshmallow at home. Well this lady had about 8 different flavors of homemade marshmallow you could sample and buy. Me and my friend Ansley tried most of them (including pumpkin and hot cocoa and birthday cake) and in the end Ansley settled on vanilla. The marshmallows came in these huge blocks. And they’re delicious.
The other new tent was for a little jewelry company called Raven Jewels. It’s run by a very sweet Rome resident named Raven Ayer. She makes the most unique and beautiful pieces of jewelry. The necklaces and earrings she had on display were made of antlers and bones and beads and leather and tassels. I don’t know a whole lot about jewelry trends but I think this girl’s about to take off so buy your Raven Jewels pieces now so you can get ahead of the crowd. Ansley got her a necklace.
And I always like seeing the specialty tents where groups such as the Rome Braves, the D.I.G.S. organization, Brighter Birthdays and the Berry Student Enterprises set up and either sell stuff or just tell the public more about their organization.
My friend Brittany was there with her little girl Mary James and they were getting Mary James’ face painted which seemed like one of the more popular attractions for the kids.
And one of the best parts about Chiaha is that so many people from all over the community are there. I saw so many people I know out there — Richie, Alice and Clara Stephens, Shelley and Keith Callier, commissioner Rhonda Wallace, County Clerk Erin Elrod and her husband Brandon, Todd and Nicole Williams, Daniel and Darien Barnes, Crews Holbrook, Tannika King, Erica Simpson, Jill and Jacob Trapp, Josh Kerce, David Cook and his cute little girls in their Halloween costumes, Kayla and Joey Brendel and a whole bunch of other people who’ll get mad at me for not remembering them in this column.
The point is, lots of folks you know are out there and it makes for some great catching up.
Those of you who follow my column know I’m all about food and as usual Chiaha did NOT disappoint.
Over in the vendor section Ansley and I sampled homemade marshmallows, cheese straws and I had to get a couple of Zelma’s Blue Ribbon Jams and Jellies. I know I can get them at a couple places in town but if I’m at Chiaha, I’m getting a couple jars. This year I got apple butter and my perennial favorite, raspberry jalapeno.
So then we went over to the food vendor side and I about cried when I saw all the choices I had. Y’all know I’m a sucker for fried stuff and there was certainly no shortage. Someone was selling those spiral cut potatoes and they looked amazing.
I had a wrap from the Doug’s Deli tent and we sat in front of the stage and watched Bryan Mullins and Stephen Smith entertain the crowd with some good music.
Before I left I went and got me some pork rinds with Cajun seasoning (the lady who sold them to me was kind enough to add extra seasoning on there when I asked). And I got me a big bag of kettle corn.
The only drawback to my trip to Ridge Ferry Park Sunday was that as I was leaving the festival, a few folks in front of me got their cars stuck in the mud. Someone told me this had been a problem on Saturday as well. There’s not a whole lot the organizers can do. We just happened to get some rain on Friday and Saturday and with so many cars driving through the park there was bound to be some mud.
If you’ve never been to the Chiaha festival or haven’t been in years, please make it a point to take your family next year. Plan on it. I guarantee you’ll have a good time. It’s like a fall tradition in Rome. Dress warm and throw and some duck boots and you’ll be good to go.
And pick me up some pork rinds while you’re there.
Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune