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Pagosa Fiber Festival celebrates seventh year of Navajo Rug Auction

Town Park will again be the venue for the Pagosa Fiber Festival over Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday and Sunday May 28 and 29.

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 Pagosa Youth Center on Friday preceding the festival. Mini-workshops will be held during the two days of the festival.

For the seventh year, the festival-sponsored annual Navajo Rug Auction will be held at the Ross Aragon Community Center at 5 p.m. Saturday.

A natural fiber connection exists between the Pagosa Fiber Festival and the native weavers who produced the much prized Navajo Rug — the festival supports the fiber arts and the Navajo artisans practices 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 examine 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. 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 itself 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.

For the third year, the festival will sponsor Fiber Arts and Yarn Competitions, and for the first time, a Fleece Competition. Winners will come home with ribbons or the much-prized silver (best of show) or pewter (best of division) medallions. 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. Interested fiber artists are encouraged to check the festival website for guidelines, applications forms and deadlines.

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. Interested? Check the festival website for registration details.

Still more! There will be activities for kids and plenty of good food. All this for a $2 entrance fee, with kids under 12 admitted 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 Darlene Cassio at darcassio@cassiogroup.com. For general questions about the festival, contact Bev Modisette at (970) 883.2246 or bmodisette@pdq.net.

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