PORTLAND – If one truly embraces the idea of multiculturalism, in its broadest sense, it’s a little easier to understand and accept why Linda Austin was at Saturday’s eighth annual Festival of Nations at Deering Oaks.

Austin bills herself as a “duct tape artist,” but her real line is a collection of self-described “redneck” items.

That means, in addition to her premier line of duct tape wallets, a “redneck backscratcher” (a paint stirrer with two bottle caps attached with a rubber band); a “redneck attache case” (an empty cardboard six-pack carrier); “redneck bubble bath” (a packet of beans); and “redneck slippers” (made from sanitary napkins).

Austin, a Mainer all her life, said she sees nothing wrong with the term “redneck,” which some people view as derogatory.

“Jeff Foxworthy got a good thing going with it,” she said, referring to the comedian whose career is based on one-liners on the theme, “You might be a redneck if …,” and punch lines like “you cut your grass and found a car.”

So set in among the booths selling ethnic food specialties and crafts, next to the booth seeking Peace Corps volunteers, sat Austin, a Lisbon Falls resident, and her redneck-abilia.

Austin said she became attracted to the subculture, generally defined as rural Southerners, during a career as a secretary at Brunswick Naval Air Station, not far from where she was born in Durham.

“I liked the Southern boys,” she said. “Boy, did we have some rednecks.”

Austin insists her redneck items are authentic, and she keeps her eyes open for new ideas on annual trips to the Country Music Awards show in Nashville.

“At their yard sales, you can buy a whole car hood,” she noted.

Wringing out an ice-filled bandana-type neck cooler, which helped her ward off temperatures that reached the low 70s Saturday, Austin said she got the idea for the duct tape wallet from one she saw at the Common Ground Country Fair, made by a small boy.

“I can’t knit or crochet,” she said, “but I can pull duct tape.” Of course, duct tape transcends cultural lines — at least to guys — but Austin thinks it has special appeal to rednecks.

“They call that ‘chrome’ down there,” she said.

Austin also thinks that associating rednecks only with the South is too limiting, too stereotypical. “We have hicks up here,” she said. “Hicks, rednecks — same thing.”

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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