If you’ve seen Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies at tourist destinations and grocery stores all over Maine, you may have thought you’d seen it all. And in some ways, you have. Those made-in-small-batches jams cooked in a steam-jacketed kettle using wild Main blueberries stand on their own for quality and taste. As do their other products — red raspberry jam, blue razz conserve, Sunshine Road marmalade. They offer products you don’t even expect: Joan’s Scones, Maine Wildflower Honey, and Maine Maple Candy. The list goes on.
In fact, Nervous Nellie’s stirs up about 40,000 jars of jam a year, and ships out untold cases of products from their small business on Deer Isle. In their brochure, they say it’s “way off on the edge of things.”
But “way off” may have another meaning. Nervous Nellie’s has what you might never expect to see but what would make you come back in a heartbeat. Greeting you at the edge of the parking lot is the find of Deer Isle: crazy, fascinating sculpture of Peter Beerits, who is also the co-owner of Nervous Nellie’s with his wife Anne.
You see, Beerits takes parts, lots of parts (like what most people would toss into the trash or recycle bin) and then fashions them into people, dogs, desks, chairs, you name it.
As if that weren’t enough, he strategically places his found-object folks into Nellieville, the little town that keeps on growing. Right now, Nellieville is home to a blacksmith shop, bank, school, and garage filled with musicians. But Beerits admits there’s more — a wizard’s tower perhaps? Opera house? More-or-less bimonthly tours of Nellieville? No tellin’.
But if a town’s known by its residents, check out the folks of Nellieville.
Outdoors, Beerits’ art invades the woods where medieval creatures lie in wait for unsuspecting art lovers. (Ah, so that’s what you do with tire rims!)
With all the musicians in Nellieville, it’s a given you could rotate the featured ones, especially if you don’t care for the music. But no one here seems to complain. “Play what you like. We’ll listen.”
So, if you’re visiting Maine, be sure to stop by Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies — not just for fine homemade local-sourced jellies and jams but also for art.
Or, if you like, park yourself on the porch and talk to the residents who rarely talk back. Besides, you just might learn a thing or two.
But don’t bring old rusted-out tools to donate. Beerits has aplenty.
For more on places we loved in Maine, head to August Down East for our pictures and posts.
As always, thanks for traveling with us — Rusha and Bert