My wife and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Three Rivers Arts Festival this past weekend. We slowly waded through the sea of people, drifted past the flotsam and jetsam of pottery, paintings, jewelry, and knick-knacks of all description, and for the first time in 35 years of making this journey, I asked myself: Why? Why do we always do this? What can we possibly hope to find here after so many years?

The answer was waiting for me when we got home. Every time I come through the front door, an enormous watercolor painting greets me in the foyer. It came from the Arts Festival. In our living room two lush, pastel paintings bookend our fireplace, and set the tone for our home. They too were found at the Arts Festival. In the kitchen more Arts Festival finds await. The same is true in our dining room and virtually every other room of our house.

Over the years, the Three Rivers Arts Festival has become an easy target for cynics, and in some respects I can see why. Year after year there’s always a lot of the usual, expected stuff there. But each year, some artist’s work somehow manages to break through, and speak to us. These are the discoveries that my wife and I have chosen to surround our selves with. And these are the things that make our house uniquely ours.

So after 35 years, I made a new discovery at this year’s Three Rivers Arts Festival. I discovered that the artists and crafts people there are creating something much more meaningful than just pots and paintings. They’re helping thousands of people create new memories, and turn their houses into homes.

If you care to share, I’d love to see and hear about your favorite Arts Festival finds.