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Spring Old Court Days

Ferris family sells antiques
for profit and fun at market

Pilot Club’s annual event
helps kick off the summer season

By Nicky R. Osinski
Contributing Writer

(May 2009) – Spring is here and warm weather is finally making its way into Indiana. This means longer days, more time to be outside and preparations begin for upcoming festivals and events.
Gale Ferris is among the latter. Ferris, a retired school teacher, now sells a variety of pottery, prints, seasoning and nostalgic items around the area. He has spent much of April preparing for Madison’s annual Old Court Days, an event organized by the non profit Pilot Club of Madison. Old Court Days will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 22-24 around the Jefferson County Courthouse. The festival extends to the city parking lot on Second and Jefferson streets.
The event is an antique and craft outdoor marker where visitors can find art, antiques, collectibles, food booths, crafts and more.
Ferris and his wife, Eleanor, have been involved in Old Court Days for about 40 years and show a genuine enjoyment for what they do.
“That’s what I like,” Ferris said. “Old fashioned preserving. I feel like I’m persevering part of the past.”
A large part of his old fashioned collection includes select pottery from Clay City that he special orders to fit what he knows people are looking for.
Each piece of pottery, from the large, dusted blue salad bowl to the sunflower yellow jars do have their own unique look – a look that Ferris has been ordering for 35 years.
“The pottery takes up at least half of the booth. A friend of my wife, she comes every year and gets a piece for her collection.”
One customer of the Ferris’ is Jefferson County Assessor Margaret Hoffman, who says she likes to try to buy a piece every year.
“I bought pottery and seasoning from Gale. I love his pottery and have been collecting it. The pieces are very unique and old fashioned and I like the looks of them.”
Old Court Days hits close to home for those who like antiques and especially foods, another area where the Ferrises specialize.
Gale cultivates different produce for the market and grows a variety of items from mosses and Lilly of the Valley to pumpkins and gourds.
Linda McDaniel, an old Court Days co-chair coordinator with Dee Gauger, helps vendors such as the Ferrises set up.
She is part of the Pilot Club, which has been sponsoring the event for 36 years.
“I have been involved with the Old Court Days for 1 1/2 years. I enjoy doing this and I am interacting with different people; I’m down there probably 12 hours a day.”
With the market lasting three days, there are bound to be familiar faces not only for those visiting but also for the vendors. Gale enjoys the social part of being a vendor and has also brought his children with him since they were young. His daughter, Beth, now 37, is involved with Old Court Days and has her own collection of hand-made items she sells.
Connie, Gale’s sister, has also been involved with being a vendor and selling during this three day period and has been doing it for a number of years like her brother.
Types of homemade items that Gale has made popular are his tranquil prints of farms, landscape and different kinds of poultry. He says people that go there like antiquated older utensils and items that can be decorated.
Hoffman said she liked the Ferrises’ items for baking and has been buying pieces from Gale for the last 10 years.
“I have a pitcher, a pie plate and different bowls. I always get some sort of item.”
The Ferrises have also put together three cookbooks that they sell Sticking to the old-fashioned theme, they chose recipes reminiscent of the Pony Express days, such as grilling, barbecue and foods that can be used for camping. The proceeds from these cookbooks go to different organizations and charities and are just the thing for someone looking for that unique item.
For those attending, there will be up to 100 vendors, each with their own assortment of crafts, antiques and food. This will be the 42nd annual Old Court Days. Admission is free. The Pilot Club uses the profits to go toward different organizations and projects, such as the Lide White Boys and Girls Club, and is expecting a good turnout for the spring.
Vendors get to their booths early. Vendors enjoy socializing with customers and browsers. “It makes you feel good when it’s your hobby and people appreciate it,” Gale Ferris says. “I enjoy people appreciating what I’ve got.”

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