There’s nothing more relaxing than sleeping during a rain shower in a house with a metal roof, as I’m sure many robins and bluejays throughout Bulls Gap can attest to after this weekend.

The 4th annual Bulls Gap Music and Craft Festival this past Saturday and Sunday at the City Park had a lot of interesting things to look at.

Wood working. Jewelry. Knick-knacks, and tchotchkes galore. Rain scared me off Saturday, so I went to the festival Sunday afternoon.

I met Tony and Becky Mowdy of Knoxville who told me they put this little Red Hot candies in their homemade apple butter, which apparently is a common recipe well known within the apple butter making community. As an apple butter outsider I was unaware of this, but it makes sense. That’s a good way to insert that spicy sweet cinnamon kick.

I also met a very nice lady by the name of Pamela Freeman who recently moved from Bulls Gap to Rogersville. She was selling all kinds of Halloween and Christmas decorations including Christmas Trees that light up made from coat hangers, strands of green tinsel, garland and ribbons

Everything she had for sale was either hand-made or hand-transformed, like kitchen towels reshaped into dolls that you put over dish detergent bottles; a variety of pumpkin and snowman decorations; hand-painted signs, and hand made “infinity scarves”.

Pamela became my friend when she gave me a chocolate kiss in a little diamond-shaped crocheted holder that opens its mouth like a baby bird when you pinch it. Then she won my heart when she chased me down the walking trail past several other booths to give me a fresh baked blueberry muffin.

But, as usual, no amount of kindness or generosity could pry a nickel out of my pocket to buy anything. Not even free treats were powerful enough to overcome that cheapskate gene that I’m carrying in my DNA.

I was tempted, however, by my new friend Ben Hogan of Chuckey who brought about 60 years of bird house construction experience and expertise to Bulls Gap this weekend.

He had some pretty good looking hand-made wooden tool boxes, but what really caught my eye were his bird houses with metal roofs fashioned from old license plates. I’m a sucker for a good looking birdhouse.

“I’m 68, and I’ve been making them since I was about 8 or 9 years old,” Ben told me. “My dad and my uncles were carpenters, and my grandpa was a farmer/carpenter. They gave me a set of tools — old racing bit, hammer, saw and pile of wood and said, build something. I started making bird houses.”

Ben said he started putting metal roofs on his bird houses in the 1970s.

Me: “Where’d you get all your license plates?”

Ben: “I used to get them at junk yards. Now I’m having to buy them. They won’t give them to me anymore. I’m going to have to pay like $2-3 a piece for them now.”

Those words had no sooner left Ben’s lips when out of nowhere Hawkins County Commission Mike Herrell showed up at Ben’s booth with a bunch of old license plates that he contributed to Ben for future bird houses.

Me: “I bet the birds like to hear the rain come down on they metal roof.”

Ben: “I’ve got a metal roof on my house, so I know they like it. Sounds good.”

By the time I got back to the office in Rogersville Sunday to download my festival photos I was regretting not buying one of those birdhouses. Maybe it was for the best.

I’ll hold out until next year for a birdhouse that has one of Mike Herrell’s old license plates for a metal roof.