Variety at BC’s annual Garden Fest


Mason J. Rockfellow

Paul Serrano (left), Bakersfield College post graduate, and Angel Balbino (right), enviormental horticulture and landscape architecture major, share their knowledge of plants with Amy Ritchie at BC’s Garden Fest on April 18.

Darla Mangrum, Reporter

Bakersfield College’s annual Garden Fest, held on campus April 18, featured a number of booths with hidden handmade treasures.

Merilee Armstrong was sitting outside her booth in the sunlight burning words onto reclaimed wood with a magnifying glass. Her booth consisted of wooden signs that she custom burned.

Armstrong said that the way she got started is “a few years ago I had just made a brick patio in front of my home, and as I was sitting there one morning, then I thought it needed some kind of sign, but I didn’t know what it should say. Right after that, a cat adopted me and decided to have kittens on my patio, so I made a sign that said ‘Cat Crossing.’”

She said she tried using a wood-burning tool, but it just didn’t feel right so she decided to use a magnifying glass. Armstrong has a Facebook page titled It Wood b Art.

Sharing a spot with Armstrong was Brandon Bellflower, who makes wire trees in his spare time to help him relax. He has always loved art and trees.

“I tried to paint trees, but I’m not a painter,” Bellflower said, “so after watching a friend make wire trees a few years ago I thought I would try it. Even though my friend showed me a few years ago how to do it, I didn’t try it until eight months ago. I found it very relaxing and a great stress relief.”

He found that selling his trees have made it easy to keep paying for his new habit and stress relief. If you would like to see Bellflowers trees, you can go to his FB page, Wired Roots of Bakersfield.

One woman, Candy Wright, made some very interesting garden art, such as a tea pot and matching lawn ornaments, rubber boot planters, and high heel shoe planters.

“I’m a Pinterest follower and I got all of my ideas from there,” she said.

She mentioned that this started out as a hobby about one and a half years ago. Then one of her friends who sold plants asked her if she wanted to share a booth last year at Garden Fest.

She enjoyed it so much that she decided to set up her own booth this year and plans on coming back again next year.

Not only was there some unique lawn art, but there were also some handmade jewelry. Anna Keene was just one person who made beautiful jewelry. Keene has been making jewelry for over 18 years and selling her craft at Garden Fest for over six years.

“I love coming to Garden Fest because I meet such wonderful people,” Keene said.

Kristen Rabe was another hobbyist who made jewelry; Rabe has been making her unique style of jewelry for 15 years and has been selling at Garden Fest since it first began 10 years ago. “I never miss the opportunity to be at Garden Fest. The people selling and buying are always so friendly,” said Rabe.

If you ever want something different to help light your patio or turn your dining room into a romantic setting without using candlelight, then you would probably appreciate the work of Bettye Miller.

Miller has a business called Light the Vines, which used to be just a hobby. She makes handcrafted lighted bottles and lamps.

Debra Stewart-Jones, who calls herself the Jean Queen, found some great ways to reuse old jeans. Jones has been a crafter for over 25 years but just started recycling jeans about five years ago. She uses old jeans for jewelry boxes, cell phone cases, rugs, purses, aprons, hatboxes and so much more.

Although this was her first time at Garden Fest, she plans on coming back because she has met so many wonderful people.

Garden Fest is annual event put on by the Agriculture Department as a fundraiser for their department.