PALMETTO -- Jim Harrington sat at a long table Thursday evening carving a fish out of black walnut.
The Palmetto resident was one of a handful of demonstrators at the Manatee County Fair's Arts & Crafts Department inside the Chaires Building at Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto.
"My wife and I, she walks around checking things and I sit here and carve," the bespectacled 82-year-old said with a smile.
Harrington said he made his first wooden piece, a pelican, nearly two decades ago at age 65. Since then, his woodworking has graduated to magnetic boot pins and cane handles.
"I guess it's relaxing," Harrington said about his craft. "I like to see what comes out of a piece of wood."
The Chaires Building burst with color and commentary as fair attendees peered at pieces of fine art and crafts by youth and adults. There were pencil sketches, photographs and paintings. Several people worked on their crafts in real time. The aroma of baked chocolate chip cookies wafted through the air as a pair sold two for $1.50.
Ribbons of different colors were stuck on pieces of art against walls and in neat displays.
"We've had a lot of entries. We've had a lot of activity," said Eileen Hoffner, chairwoman of the fair's Arts & Crafts Department. "People are having a really good time."
Nearby at another long table sat Bradenton resident Joan Malcolm, 70, and her neighbor, Linda Zipper, 67.
"I'm here demonstrating at the county fair. I'm demonstrating knitting and crocheting," Malcolm said as she worked on a multicolored child's hat.
Malcolm, who has been knitting for 62 years, said she belongs to a group that knits creations for different county charities. She and Malcolm team to knit infant hats for local hospitals.
For Zipper, knitting is a passion she enjoys sharing with others.
"It's a journey that I started when I was 8 years old," Zipper said as her hands worked expertly on a pair of mens' fingerless mittens. "I am still enjoying it, looking for new things. There's always something new out, there's new techniques. Somebody creates something that 'How in the heck did they do that? I want to do that!' It's my true passion."
The Arts & Crafts Department was the second stop at the fair for 65-year-old Verna Hansen, who marveled at a Lionel train set chugging past miniature buildings.
"I used to have a Lionel train set when I was 5 years old," she said. "Santa Claus brought me and my father a Lionel train set."
The retired rural carrier laughed. The moment brought her nostalgia.
"It's very nice," she said.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.