"It's really kind of an emotional year, because we're all so pleased to be involved. Without the volunteers and the employees, we wouldn't have survived 25 years," said Willoughby. "We enjoy doing this festival. It's a lot of work, and it takes all year to get it organized, but we all enjoy it."
Volunteers were not the only people enjoying the perfect weather at the festival. Parents and half-pints gathered among the rows of white tents, admiring the unique wears vendors had hand-crafted.
Men in tricorn hats and hosing walked by racks of hand-sewn quilts, stacks of hand-stitched brooms and rows of homemade hand lotions that were reminiscent of floral scents Grandma use to wear. Red balloons bobbed and puppy's tails wagged as the smell of cedar, cinnamon and corn-dogs drifted by.
"This is one of the best (festivals) in the state, as far as sales, the way the park is set up and the atmosphere," said Jack Cary Sr. as he watched customers browse over his rows of painted cross-cut saws.
In order to keep Kentucky crafts and culture the focus of the festival booths, Carey's crafts, as well as the other vendors, had to be approved by a festival committee.
A 10-year veteran of the festival, Cary said he plans on coming back next year.
Past Carey's tent on Fisher's Row, James Boyd helped a customer pick out the perfect wooden truck for his tot. Boyd has sold his hand-carved wooden toys at the festival since its opening day 25 years ago.
"It's been a hobby of mine for a good many years. It's kind of a self-sustaining hobby with me," said Boyd. "In 25 years, I've put what I've made into an envelope and took out whatever I spend on materials."
Boyd's festival tent holds wooden wonders parents remember playing with and children now collect. Items like pine-hewn fire trucks, trains and tractors stemmed from his own designs, his favorite being the front-end loader.
"As a child I would build a few to just play, but they were pretty rough," said Boyd. After years of building furniture, "beautiful pieces" said his daughter, Jane Boyd, his crafts now roll with ease on wooden wheels and include intricate details like removable ladders and moving parts.
Nearby, his wife, Mildred Boyd, stands aside to watch her husband.
"I mostly do the sweeping," she said with a laugh, "and I help out with a few clamps."
"It's pretty cute, these same kids come back and add to their collection," said Jane Boyd, who was visiting from California.
"They come back and say, 'I buy one every year," added his wife.
This weekend might be their last chance, warned James. At the age of 91, he is debating whether to attend the festival next year.
"This will probably be my last year," he said Friday night.
"We'll see," said Mildred the next day.
Behind her, Signora Bella had taken the stage once again, and this time to a slightly more alert audience.
"I will now attempt to stun and amaze you as I balance on this raaazzzzor-sharp, gloooobe of death!" she announced dramatically.
The enchanted crowd gasped as she juggled Turkish swords, stolen from beneath the noses of guards at a Turkish harem. After a fire-juggling grand finale, she passed a basket for donations, to be used to pay for her dowry and escape from the carnival life, or was it to buy fresh flowers for her sick mama in Italy?
"Bravo!" shouted the amused crowd, dollar bills seen in more than one hand. With a wry smile, Bella took a bow and released the audience with ... complimentary words of parting.
"May all your children be as talented and beautiful as me," she said.