If you were in downtown New Iberia, it was a beautiful day to walk the grounds at Shadows-on-the-Teche.

The historic home opened its gates Saturday to dozens of craft vendors and artists for its semi-annual arts and crafts show. And, although the shows have been held for years, having one on a cool sunlit day as the community creeps out from under COVID-19 restrictions made it a singular event.

“We had more than 700 through the gate so far,” said Shadows-on-the-Teche Director Pat Kahle, working the welcome table at the entrance. “I know they haven’t gotten to 1,000 yet, because I separated all of the wristbands for them, and I only tore 1,000.”

They were getting close to using all of the bands up, though. By 3 p.m., more than 800 people had made it through the gate to sample the wares and browse the offerings from 48 craft vendors scattered about the grounds.

The outing marked a resurgence of sorts for the arts and craft event. In March, before the first state stay-at-home order was issued due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, more than 100 vendors were on site, with almost double the numbers of attendees. Kahle said the arts and crafts show held in December, as the state was still contending with growing infections and deaths, did not draw the crowd of previous events.

“We did the holiday show, but only had about 500 people,” Kahle said. “It was a smaller crowd.”

For some of the longtime vendors, however, Saturday was a great day.

“I sold out of all of the suns I had brought today,” said Vernon Bacqué, a long time participant in the fair. “It reminds me of the first show I did, ‘Blooming on the Bayou’ in Breaux Bridge 15 years ago. I brought herons that time and sold every one.”

A few yards away, nestled against the back wall of the historic home, Brenda DeKyzer Lowry of Lydia showed off her crocheted shawls under a forest green canopy.

“We have had a good turnout,” she said. “Much better than the last.”

Erin Landry of Lafayette, who was offering free samples of her signature sweet tea near the Bayou Teche, said she has been to three of the events so far.

“The first was great,” Landry said. “This is getting closer to that one.”

Around the other side of the garden, New Iberia dentist John Mahoney was purchasing a painting from Lafayette artist Cathy Bader Mills.

“She does beautiful birds,” Mahoney said.

Farther along the garden path, wood artist Ann Bouillion of Kaplan was chatting with another vendor, her whimsical found-wood mobiles spinning slowly in the afternoon breeze.

“I’ve been coming for quite a few years,” she said, laughing. “The turnout was not as bad as I expected.”

Kahle was optimistic that, come fall, the next arts and crafts fair would be even better.

“We’ll get back to where we were,” she said.

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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