As dozens of people passed through vendor tents at Sacajawea Park Sunday for the fourth annual Flathead Lake Festival of Art, one local man perched himself on a stool — playing chords on a handmade guitar.
Nathan Eyre, a craftsman from Polson who owns Mission Valley Woodworking, showcased his musical talent on a three-string guitar he crafted himself.
“My dad owned a woodshop and I always wanted to build a guitar,” Eyre explained of his hobby.
About a decade ago, his schedule began allowing him time to devote to constructing the guitars.
Running a summer camp for kids in Missoula, Eyre said people would visit during lunchtime to provide entertainment.
A blues musician attended the camp, impressing Eyre with his guitar.
Eyre then researched the cigar-box guitar, eventually going to open mic nights once he made one.
“This got the most attention and people started asking” if he could build them the same type of guitar.
His instruments are constructed with repurposed wood.
THE FULL-TIME digital marketer builds guitars and other wood items on the side.
For his merchandise, Eyre said he frequents the “home repurpose stores” in Missoula, or finds scrap wood from acquaintances.
“Just trying to give the wood ‘new life,’” he said.
Sometimes an artist from Texas will be commissioned by Eyre to add a little artwork on the instruments. The guitars generally cost between $500 and $800, depending on the detail and time Eyre devotes to each piece.
Over the last four years, the Flathead Lake Festival of Art has been held on the shore of Flathead Lake, offering a more intimate setting for artists and attendees, said Sherry Jones, co-chair of the event.
Proceeds from the two-day show help the Sandpiper Art Gallery, a nonprofit, fund further artistic education for artists, Jones added.
The festival takes place just before the long-running Sandpiper Art Festival, which takes place on the Lake County Courthouse lawn for one day.
“Over the years we’ve wanted to provide another venue to offer artists who are a little more established,” Jones said, noting that the main focus of both festivals is to encourage art within the community.
While vendors traveled from as far as Washington, Jones said that most of the 30 artists were from western Montana.