Tribute to Bubba     15 February, 2008, 11:57 pm
Our dear friend and colleague Douglas “Bubba” Fast died at a craft show in Ohio last December at the age of 56. His passing was noted in the craft show business. Word spread during the week through personal email lists from artist to artist. Many went to his snowy funeral in Akron and hundreds of others attended a memorial service put together by Sugarloaf at their Chantilly, Virginia show.

Bubba was as big as his name, in stature and in heart. You could hear his shrieks and bellows across the hall greeting others, way before you ever saw him. Standing over 6’4”, he was built like a defensive lineman with big arms that would enfold any friend or acquaintance that happened by his booth. Everyone knew Bubba and he knew everyone. He seemed to be as much rock star as the leather handbag artisan listed in the show program. He drew in a wide range of friends spilling across gender and racial lines.

Bubba believed in unconditional love so that it took a lot to rile him up. One time when I observed him being wronged by a friend, he simply turned the other cheek. He told me that he might have a booth near them next week or see them at dinner that night. “We’ll just have to get along,” Bubba mused, “because we love each other.” He never put it into religious terms around me, although we did learn that he had a religious experience according to his obituary in the Akron newspaper web site.

Bubba’s passing pointed out the fractured nature of the life of traveling artists. We have a show life with our show friends on the weekend, and another life during the week populated with other friends and family. Susan calculated that she would see Bubba about 80 days a year, much more that she sees her only brother Jerome who lives an hour away. At the funeral, Bubba’s family was surprised at the number and diversity of artists that showed up. Bubba’s show life was a world that they knew little about, just as we knew few details of his family.

Bubba’s death is also a reminder that the baby boomers, which make up a large proportion of the artists (and their customers), are entering late middle to old age. We’re no longer the young, wide-eyed hippies that brought arts and crafts to the people. We’re buying senior coffees at McDonalds and travel trailers.

Bubba passed in his sleep on a Sunday morning while his partner Mark worked the booth. Bubba was pretty smart; he timed it so he didn’t have to tear down the show. Bubba, we’ll miss you.

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