Daylilly Delight

New Creations plans new festival

Deputy, Ind., garden to host
storyteller, arts, crafts and more

(June 2013) – Becky and Mark Eberts invite guests to step back in time through stories and art at their inaugural New Creations Daylilies Festival. For the past five years the couple has shared their beautiful flowers with fellow and aspiring growers, selling plants from their own successful gardens.
“All our daylilies are grown in the gardens and dug fresh,” says Becky Eberts.

Sharon Clifton

Photo provided

Storyteller Sharon Clifton to tell stories
of the Underground Railroad at
daylilies event.

Eberts has been growing daylilies for about 20 years and explains the appeal of the flowers saying, “They are very easy to grow and there is a wide variety. When I ordered my first ones years ago, I couldn’t believe how easy they were.”
She also believes that the fact that the perennial flowers come back year after year adds to their popularity. Knowing that the flowers return can make gardeners more willing to invest time and effort in plants that they know will be around for future seasons. Eberts reflects that as they grew more confident with the plants “we started hybridizing them and having fun with them.”
The New Creations Daylilies Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at 1120 W. State Hwy. 250 in Deputy, Ind., in the community of Old Paris.
Artists will sell and demonstrate a wide variety of crafts including jewelry beading, blacksmithing and homemade soap. Visitors will also get a peek at the rare art of scrimshaw, where bone or ivory is carved and then inked to display elaborate designs. Madison painter and art instructor Judi Owens plans a hands-on presentation to let visitors have fun with their own creativity.
Eberts sees the festival as a chance for visitors to enjoy demonstrations and a way “to see artists doing their work.”
She says, “That’s what we enjoy when we go to festivals. We really enjoy seeing things being made, seeing where their passion comes from. They all love what they do.”
She explains that when she and her husband began to consider the idea of a festival, they were a bit surprised when they realized just how many of their friends were also talented artists. “This year we just started going through people we knew who had creativity,” she says. “It was kind of fun when we started to brainstorm.”
The festival has grown out of the Eberts’ commitment to making their garden more than a quick stop for shopping. Rather, they prefer to encourage customers to make a fun afternoon of the experience wandering among the lovely plants, enjoying the country atmosphere, and taking advantage of the picnic tables.
Throughout the festival, Eberts will be giving a talk called “Making New Flowers,” focused on hybridizing daylilies. Through hybridization, growers are able to cross different plants and breed their own unique varieties. Many gardeners enjoy the anticipation of waiting to see if their seeds will yield the best traits of their favorite plants and the thrill of a bloom opening on a brand new type of flower. 
While Eberts’ lessons may have festival goers looking forward to future summers filled with their own unique daylilies, another speaker will be taking them back in time. Storyteller Sharon Kirk Clifton will  share tales from the Underground Railroad with her presentation, “Abigail Gray, Living Under the Drinking Gourd.” The story of an 1859 abolitionist farm wife living in Jennings County draws from Clifton’s research and travels to historical sites.
She explains that her persona of Abigail Gray is a compilation of different historical people, “but all the stories are true.”
Clifton, 68, was awarded a Frank Basile Emerging Stories Fellowship in 2004 to develop this program, which incorporates stories with traditional spirituals and signal songs which allowed slaves to share coded messages as they planned their escape.
Clifton describes the attraction of storytelling saying, “I like history and I’ve always enjoyed playing dress up!” She presents her first person tale in period attire, which she sewed herself, reflecting that the experience of creating the costume allowed her a small glimpse at the life of someone like Abigail Gray.
Clifton was intrigued as her research preparing her stories opened a new view of southern Indiana history. “I was fascinated to find out that a lot of the people involved in the Underground Railroad were free blacks – their family had never been enslaved,” she says. “Originally, the Underground Railroad was more or less haphazard in this area of the country,” and it was the African American residents  who “brought order and cohesion to the work,” Clifton explains.
Eberts believes that they offer the perfect setting for Clifton’s stories, “Our house is an 1835 home, pre-Civil War. It was here when these events took place.”
The historic surroundings will help Clifton transport listeners to another time. “I involve the audience a lot. They become actors; they are freedom seekers being welcomed to the farm.”
She says that the first person style of storytelling helps to connect people to the events she is describing and allows them to get caught up in the tale. “I am told that people forget the year we are in right now,” she said, laughing.

• New Creation Daylilies is located at 1120 W. State Hwy. 250, in Deputy in the community of Old Paris. Visit New Creation Daylilies on Facebook for more information. Sharon Clifton can be found online at http://writersharonkirkclifton.blogspot.com/.

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