Country Treasures Craft Show returns to Quincy for annual show

Artist Ray Windmiller carved this cartoon-like character into a piece of polymer clay. He does most of the detail using toothpicks and Popsicle sticks as tools. The carving was displayed at Sunday's Country Treasures show. (H-W Photo/Maggie Menderski)
Posted: Nov. 18, 2012 6:35 pm Updated: Dec. 2, 2012 7:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

A small hunter glared at the squirrel perched on top of his head as two craft show attendants pointed and giggled on Sunday.

Ray Windmiller had molded this common hunting annoyance into a bit of polymer clay. Having grown up hunting and fishing in Adams County, he knew squirrels irritate most deer hunters. He plugged this natural humor into his "River Rat" art just as eagerly as the craft show guest consumed it.

Windmiller had one of several booths at the Oakley-Lindsay Center's Country Treasures Craft show on Sunday. Other booths featured crafts such as fudge, antiques, candy, purses, clothing or hanging art. Cara Severit, one of the show's promoters, said this annual, weekend-long craft show has come to Quincy twice a year for nearly two decades. Severit saw a larger than average crowd during this year's show on Saturday.

"Quincy loves (having) us here," she said.

Like many of the vendors, Windmiller prepared well in advance to attend craft shows. He estimated he carves at least 350 River Rat sculptures each year. He brought 52 carvings to the Quincy show and had sold more than half of them by Sunday afternoon.

He fashions his figurines out of driftwood from the Illinois River, cedar and polymer clay. Most of the time, his method is nearly as rustic as the scenes he portrays.

"I have real precision tools -- mostly I use a toothpick and a Popsicle stick," Windmiller said.

The hunter entertained a small, interchanging crowd at his booth. As the guests browsed his station, they called out some of the River Rats habits. Windmiller had positioned the hunters to talk on cell phones, sleep among the wild and argue with conservation officials.

"People come in and laugh," Windmiller said. "That's my reward."