The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 30, 2013

Beach Glass Festival makes Ashtabula Harbor glisten

Fifth annual event ends today in Ashtabula

ASHTABULA — Glass washed and polished over the years by Mother Nature gave Bridge Street in Ashtabula Harbor some extra sparkle on Saturday.

The fifth annual Beach Glass Festival wraps up a two-day run today. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bottles and other glass-based items barely given a thought when they found their way into lakes and oceans years ago have spawned an industry and a legion of glass groupies. Plenty of people mingling with the nearly 90 vendors could be seen wearing “I Love Beach Glass” T-shirts.

Former Ashtabula resident Vanessa Esquiebel, now living in San Diego, was home for a visit and took in the festival with husband Alex.

“This is really unique,” she said. “I’m glad we came. It’s interesting. What a great idea.”

Gina O’Rourke of Jefferson was passing through the harbor when she saw the crowd, all the tents and food-sellers. She and daughters Chloe and Bailey just had to stop and browse among the jewelry.

“We were just driving by,” she said. “We thought it looked (like fun).”

The latest version attracted beach glass businesspeople from as far away as some from as far away as Florida and Virginia, said Troy Dalrymple, co-owner of Beaches in the harbor and an organizer of the event. Dalrymple smiled as he gestured at the row of white vendor tents stretched along the street.

“The festival has really grown,” he said. “We’re starting to go up the hill (toward Lake Avenue).”

Dark clouds early Saturday morning gave way to sunshine, much to Dalrymple’s relief.

“It was a little rocky at first,” he said. “But the weather really shined in our favor.”

Brenda Southall of Ashtabula operates Tumbled Treasures and has been creating beach glass items since 2005. “I was one of the first to sell it,” she said.

Southall has watched the Festival grow each year — along with people’s interest in beach glass. Now a combination of recycling, increased use of plastics and consumer demand has made the glass a precious material.

“It’s getting harder and harder to find it,” she said.

While glass could be seen everywhere dangling as earrings, necklaces and bracelets, Bonnie Mohrbacher of Rochester, Pa., found a different use. She uses glass and stones to create turtle sculptures that brought lots of people to her Turtle Treasures booth

“My daughter was into turtles,” Mohrbacher said. “I started making them as gifts, and it eventually grew into a business.”

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