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Pagosa Fiber Festival — beyond Earth Day

The Pagosa Fiber Festival follows upon the month that saw Pagosa’s fourth Earth Day/Week celebration.

The sponsoring organization, Southwest Organization for Sustainability, is to be congratulated for what was going to be a “best ever” had the weather not had other ideas. Just another “Spring Time in the Rockies” moment. As important as it is to celebrate Earth Day, if we stop there we have done little. It is what happens every day beyond Earth Day that matters and the Fiber Festival is part of that “beyond.”

The Pagosa Fiber Festival supports producers of fiber animals and the products made from their fiber, whether it be wool, alpaca, llama, angora, mohair, etc. The Festival provides a venue where these small producers can display their products to the public. This means the festival is more than a fun event, it is another important step Beyond Earth Day on our way to reducing the size of our region’s carbon footprint.

The Pagosa Fiber Festival opens the season of fun in Pagosa Springs — Memorial Day weekend, May 26 and 27. Events actually begin on Tuesday, May 22, with a full day fiber arts workshop. Workshops and demonstrations continue throughout Saturday and Sunday.

During the days festival goers should plan to spend their time wandering among the circle of white tents in Town Park enjoying the animals, the gorgeous fashions and home accessories handmade from their fiber, fun activities for youngsters, some very good food and, planners hope, the weather. Shopping is guilt free at the Festival; dollars spent are helping the economy and the planet — a combination that is rarely achieved these days.

But there is more: the festival will also host a silent auction with many exciting items sure to please a discerning taste for fine handmade garments, home accessories, yarn and roving. A very special item will appear at this year’s auction — a Schact Wolf Pup 4 Heddle Loom. It is gorgeous and in mint condition, ready to make some weaver very happy and very productive.

For those who are interested in learning how to work fiber, the festival offers a variety of workshops all taught by accomplished fiber artists. Here fiber enthusiasts learn a new skill or perfect an old one in preparation for creating handmade products for personal use or to sell. The role of the “cottage industry” is key in our search for sustainable economic activity. The complete list of workshops includes: Beginning Navajo Weaving (Ilene Naegel), Navajo Horse Cinch Weaving (Roy Kady), Making Watercolor Felt (Linda Smith), Nuno Felted Scarf (Lois Burbach), Natural Dyeing (Paula Seay), Introduction to High Whorl Spindling (Susan Jones) and Spinning Faux Boucle (Nancy Wilson). Scheduling, costs and registration details are on the website.

For dedicated fiber artists, the festival offers competitions and prizes in the Finished Products, Fleece and Handspun Yarn categories. Winners go home with ribbons and, for those in top place, very handsome silver and bronze medallions.

The Pagosa Fiber Festival joins with other countywide efforts to protect our community against the extreme “boom and bust” cycles familiar to residents of Archuleta County, even recent ones. These efforts all have one concept in common — sustainability. The Southwest Land Alliance promotes conservation easements as a way of saving our last big ranches. The Town and several other entities are using the geothermal resource provided us naturally as an energy resource. The Farmers Market supports the myriad of small farms that practice sustainable food production and the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership will do the same. There is fun to be had at the Fiber Festival and beyond that fun is a very serious purpose.

The Festival website, http://pagosafiberfestival.com 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 Linda Smith at (970) 884-0502 or smjam9@aol.com. For general questions about the Ffestival, contact Bev Modisette at 883-2246 or bmodisette@pdq.net.

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