Syracuse Plowshares Festival still building on the dream

The annual Plowshares Craftsfair & Winter Peace Festival probably started out from the old saying in the 1960s, "Make love, not war." But instead of actually making love, the festival's artisans make their products lovingly and with great thought and care.

The term Plowshares comes from the verse in the Old Testament:

"And they shall beat their swords into plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war anymore.

-Isaiah 2.4"

Loosely translated, instead of putting your efforts toward war, how about something more useful, like food?

Andy Mager from Syracuse's Peace Council said, "Transforming weapons of war into useful products seemed like a great theme for our event."

Syracuse's Plowshares Festival began in the early 1970s as part of the Peace Council's work for peace and social justice. The Council was working to build a community of people committed to these issues as well as to raise funds toward those efforts. Dik Cool was one of the originators, Mager said.

"There was a need for additional opportunities for local craftspeople to sell their wares, for people to buy locally made products in an atmosphere of community and to raise money for the Peace Council," he said. It fit together so seamlessly. Part of Plowshares success is that it is a win for everybody -- there are no losers unlike with war.

A Plowshares theme is diversity on all fronts, including an eclectic entertainment and refreshments mix. Different cultures are represented as well as different age groups.

"Plowshares is about diversity and people coming together from different parts of the community, so other than celebrating those differences and learning from one another we aren't looking for any particular vibe," Mager said. "We work hard to develop a balanced show representing a wide range of crafts and styles and seeking to represent the beautiful diversity of our Central New York community."

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