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Pagosa Fiber Festival — Earth Day and beyond

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

The sponsoring organization, Southwest Alliance for Sustainability, is to be congratulated for another successful event. As important as that celebration is, if we stop there we have done little. It is what happens beyond Earth Day that matters and the Fiber Festival is part of that “beyond.”

This is how.

The days of large ranches are over in this part of the country; the threat of overdevelopment, of suburban sprawl continues; the current economic downturn is a significant but not permanent disincentive. The “boom and bust” cycle is not unfamiliar to residents, even recent ones, of Archuleta County and will, no doubt, recycle. So what is the answer? There are many. A big one is rethinking our growth policies; another is promoting conservation easements as the Southwest Alliance is doing. The answer pertinent to this article is developing a myriad of small farms that practice sustainable production. We have a farmers market and we have a geothermal greenhouse project. Both encourage small farmers who practice sustainable production of food.

The Fiber Festival does the same for small producers of fiber animals and the products made from their fiber, whether it be wool, alpaca, llama, angora, mohair, etc. It does this by providing 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 regional’s carbon footprint.

The Pagosa Fiber Festival also opens the season of fun in Pagosa Springs — Memorial Day weekend, May 29 and 30. Events actually begin on Thursday and Friday, May 27 and 28 with two days of fiber arts workshops. Mini-classes continue throughout Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday evening the festival presents its annual Navajo Rug Auction with a reception preceding the event. The auction features rugs made by Navajo artisans who in many cases raise their own Navajo Churro sheep for their strong and lustrous wool, ideally suited for long lasting rugs.

During the days, festivalgoers should plan to spend their time under the big 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.

For those who are interested in learning how to work fiber, the festival offers a variety of workshops. 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 is available on line, along with registration information.

For dedicated fiber artists, the festival offers competitions and prizes in the Garment and Home Accessories and Handspun Yarn categories. Guidelines are available online.

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

Alternately, for information on workshops and registration contact Nancy Wilson at (928) 567-6684 or . For vendor or exhibitor space information, contact Barbara Witkowski, 264-4543 or For general questions about the festival, contact Jane McKain at 264-4456 or