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Full schedule at Pagosa Fiber Festival May 29-30

Town Park will again be the venue for the Pagosa Fiber Festival over Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday and Sunday May 29 and 30. Festival organizers say it will be hard to miss the big white tent and all the activity.

The fiber arts workshops will be at the Ross Aragon Community Center on Thursday and Friday preceding the festival. Mini-workshops will be held during the two days of the festival. For the sixth year, the festival sponsored annual Navajo Rug Auction will be held at the community center at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

A natural fiber connection exists between the Pagosa Fiber Festival and the native weavers who produce the much-prized Navajo rug — the festival supports the fiber arts and the Navajo artisans practice the art. Several years ago festival organizers realized that the festival was a natural venue for the product of this effort — the beautiful and durable Navajo rug. A visit to the Navajo reservation produced the necessary contacts and the annual auction is the result.

The public is invited to look and handle the rugs and ask questions of the native experts and auctioneer who will be available for that purpose and are ready to talk about the different traditions and the attributes that determine price. All are welcome, including those who come solely for the education.

The rugs will be on display Saturday at the community center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; registration is from noon to 5 p.m. when the auction will begin. The auction will include a select group of rugs created from Navajo Churro yarn. The rare Navajo Churro sheep is making a comeback from near extinction with 3,000 currently registered animals and its fiber is finding its way back into traditional Navajo rug weaving. Its long, silky and strong fleece is very much prized by Navajo weavers for creating the very best rugs and, or course, the most expensive.

Meanwhile, back at Town Park, a wide variety of attractions make the festival a treat for the whole family. In the big tent, all kinds of interesting animals abound — alpacas, llamas, angora goats which produce mohair and angora rabbits which produce angora, several different types of sheep and the unusual Scottish Highlander Cattle. Outside, mohair goats, alpacas and sheep are relieved of their winter accumulated fiber during the shearing demonstrations. Back inside, fiber fashioned into every conceivable form — hat, glove, scarf, sweater, ruana, rug, pillow, etc. — attracts the eye, especially the feminine eye interested in fashion. Other demonstrations show the many different ways to work with fiber and fleece — spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting and felting.

Sadly, the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has introduced a new use for fiber of various kinds, including human hair and a nationwide effort to get fiber to the Gulf. In Decatur, Tenn., news headlines read “Alpaca Fibers for Gulf Oil Spill.” The Alpaca Fiber Coop of North America located in Decatur just shipped 10,000 pounds of non-commercial grade alpaca fiber to the Gulf coast where it is being turned into large net-like structures which will act like sponges and soak the oil out of the water. Both the durability and absorbing qualities of the fiber make it ideal for this task. Interested to learn how anyone can help? Google Matter of Trust.

For the third year, the festival will sponsor a Fiber Arts Competition and a Yarn Competition, complete with judges, prizes and ribbons. Fiber artists are encouraged to get creative and enter their creations in one or more art form category — Weave, Knit, Crochet, Lockerhook or Felt. Both garments and home accessories are welcomed. Spinners are invited to enter a skein of their prized handspun yarn in either expert or novice classes. Entries are accepted between 9 and 10 a.m. on Saturday and will be on display after judging is complete. Both competitions require a $2 entry fee. Specific guidelines are available on the festival website.

For those who are interested in learning how to work with fiber, the Festival offers a variety of workshops and first class teachers. The list of half day and full day workshops is long and varied: On Thursday: Felting a Hat, Introduction to Plant Dyes, Beginning Spinning, A Smorgasbord of Camelid Fibers, Entrelac Knitting. On Friday: Nuno Felting A Scarf, Beginning Spinning, Introduction to Fiber Beadmaking, Knitting Without Needles, Locker Hooking, Colcha Embroidery. Interested? Check the festival website for registration details.

Still more! There will be a activities for kids and plenty of good food. All this for a $2 entrance fee with kids under 12 free.

The festival website www.pagosafiberfestival.org is available for all information, guidelines and applications.

Alternately, for information on workshops and registration contact Nancy Wilson at (928) 567-6684 or spinllama@msn.com. For vendor or exhibitor space information, contact Barbara Witkowski (970) 264-4543 or ba_witkowski@yahoo.com For general questions about the festival, contact Jane McKain at (970) 264-4456 or jemckain@centurytel.net.