The Pagosa Fiber Festival celebrates its 10th annual event this weekend in Town Park.
Wonder how it started? Dave Belt explains. (Dave and his family, long time residents of Pagosa, raised alpacas and since 2003 live in Nova Scotia.)
“I remember the genesis of the festival: I was sitting at a stop sign on South Pagosa Boulevard in late May 1999, trying to get across the highway to the other side (these were in the days before traffic lights came to Pagosa). The traffic zipping through town on 160 was phenomenal. And that is a problem, I thought to myself. Here it is Memorial Day — the first major weekend of the summer — and the tourists are not getting off the highway to see our fair town. We need to create something to entice them to stop and spend some time in Pagosaland over the Memorial Day weekend. ‘Ah!’ I exclaimed — ‘let’s do what they do in Taos ... create a festival to celebrate fiber-bearing animals, the artisans, and the fiber arts ... right here in Pagosa!’”
From a privately-funded event, the festival transitioned to a non-profit with board of directors and a mission. With respect to the public, the aim of the Pagosa Fiber Festival is to educate everyone about the wide variety of fiber animals — alpacas, angora and cashmere goats, angora rabbits, llamas, Scottish Highlander Cattle, sheep and yak — and the wonderful products that are made from their fibers. The educational value of all this effort and activity is clear.
In addition, the organization’s website, www.pagosafiberfestival.org, states that the Festival is a celebration of:
• The efforts of a growing cottage industry involved in fiber-related businesses- spinning, weaving, knitting, felting, crochet.
• The efforts to preserve a rural lifestyle and landscape by providing the small livestock raisers a venue to promote their product.
.While the Pagosa Fiber Festival has a ways to go to be like Taos, still the 2010 attendance figure, 2,000, was an increase of about 300 folks over the previous year.
A unique feature of the event is that it offers something of interest to almost everyone. Families love the livestock tent with its exotic alpacas, llamas and Navajo Churro sheep, the tiny Shetland sheep, curly angora kid goats and fuzzy angora rabbits. Kids have hands on fun creating with fiber. Fiber artists are happy to have another showcase for their outstanding handmade garments and home accessories. Aspiring artists have the opportunity to take workshops in such subjects as spinning, weaving, knitting, natural dyes, felting, Navajo weaving, etc. during the Thursday and Friday half day and full day workshops.
Navajo Rug enthusiasts can participate in an auction with the hope of taking home one of the prized rugs created by Navajo weavers, perhaps, even meet the artist. Everyone, but especially women, enjoys the offerings of the many vendors who display handmade garments of fine animal fiber. And then, of course, there is yarn, roving, batting of every description and color to satisfy every desire to create ones own garment or home accessory.
Schedule of events
Friday May 27:
• 8-11 a.m. Entries accepted for the Yarn, Home Accessories and Fleece competitions, main tent.
• 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Fiber workshops at the Pagosa Youth Center; see website for selection of classes.
• 1-5 p.m. Competition judging.
Saturday, May 28:
Festival hours 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
• Demonstrations of all kinds at the various vendor booths — carding, spinning, weaving, felting, knitting, etc.
• Two to three major drawing each day, including a weekend at a guesthouse located at a nearby resort area.
• Interested in fiber producing livestock? Find several knowledgeable folks in the Livestock Tent, including Jim Burbach and Jan and Rich Fiorucci each with their own alpacas, Brenda Wanket and her Scottish Highlander Cattle, Ellen Sibelius and her angora goat and Linda Smith and her sheep.
• Sonny Gustamontes shears sheep and angora goats on the raised platform, outside on the hour.
• Fix your Wheel — if you have a wheel that needs repair bring it to Pam Ramsey at her booth.
• 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Navajo rugs on display, Ross Aragon Community Center.
• 11 a.m.-noon, Let’s Talk Alpacas — Jim Burback.
• 11 a.m.-noon. Spool Knitting for kids
• Noon. Drawing: La Plata Farm Fiber Basked plus class with Pam Ramsey and handmade Navajo spindle by Doug Ramsey.
• Noon, Yarn, Home Accessories and Fleece Competition winners announced.
• Noon-1 p.m. Dyeing with Kool Aid for kids.
• Noon-5 p.m. Registration for rug auction. Community center.
• 1-2 p.m. Mini-class — Beginning Knitting, Linda Parmenter.
• 1-2 p.m. Mini-class — Learn to Use a Spindle. Susan Jones.
• 2-3 p.m. Mini-class — Dye Plants for a Colorado Garden. Linda Smith.
• 3 p.m. Drawing: Weekend for two at Pagosa Inn and Suites.
• 4-5 p.m. Reception for auction. Community center.
• 5 p.m. Navajo Rug Auction. Community center.
Sunday, May 29
Festival hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ongoing: See events listed above .
• 10- 11 a.m. Mini-class — Lichens Make Purple. Paula Seay.
• 11 a.m.-noon. Mini- class — Core Spinning. Linda Smith.
• Noon-1 p.m. Felt a Fiber for kids .
• 1-2 p.m. Mini-class — Starting out with Sheep and Goats. Linda Smith.
• 1-2 p.m. Mini-class — Locker Hooking. Pam Dyer.
• 1-2 p.m. Story Hour for Kids.
• 2-3 p.m. Mini-class — Triangle Loom. Anna Kinney.
• 3-4 p.m. Drawing: Overnight at cabin and tour of DeGoatsnsheep Ranch; two baskets of fiber arts goods.
For more information see www.pagosafiberfestival.org or call Bev Modisette at 970.883.2246.