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Pagosa Fiber Festival this weekend in Town Park

The Pagosa Fiber Festival celebrates its 11th annual event this weekend in Town Park.

Wonder how it started? Dave Belt explains. Dave and his family, longtime 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 a 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, http://pagosafiberfestival.com, 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; and

• 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 2011 attendance figure, 1,700, 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.

Aspiring artists or those wishing to advance their artistry have been in workshops throughout this week at the Pagosa Lodge. They include: 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). During the festival, Susan Jones and Nancy Wilson are offering classes: Introduction to High Whorl Spindling (Susan Jones) and Spinning Faux Boucle (Nancy Wilson). Interested? Check the schedule below and just drop in.

Fiber artists are happy to have another showcase for their outstanding handmade garments and home accessories. For the fourth year, the festival will sponsor fiber arts and yarn competitions and, for the second year, a fleece competition. Winners will come home with ribbons or the much-prized silver (best of show) or bronze (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 or Felt. Both garments and home accessories are welcome. 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 Fiber Festival website for guidelines, applications forms and deadlines.

Last, but not least, is a very exciting silent auction that will go on Saturday and Sunday. All kinds of handcrafted items appear, among them a hand woven rag rug and a hand crafted quilt. In the hardware department, is a Schact Wolf Pup 4 Heddle Loom! It is gorgeous and in mint condition, ready to make some weaver very happy and very productive.

Way more than enough here to keep all members of the family busy and there is also good food for the whole family. A great place to spend the day. And all for a $2 admission fee for the weekend.

Friday, May 25

• 8 -11 a.m.: Entries accepted for the Yarn, Finished Products and Fleece competitions

• 1-5 p.m.: Competition Judging

Saturday, May 26

Festival hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

• 10 a.m.-noon: High Whorl Spindling — Susan Jones ($20 fee)

• 11 a.m.-noon: Spool Knitting for Kids — Linda Smith (no charge)

• 1-2 p.m.: Locker Hooking demonstration — Pam Dyer (no charge)

• 1-2 p.m.: Creating Gorgeous, Blended Roving Using a Hackle — Doug Daugherty (no charge)

• 1-4 p.m.: Natural Dyeing - Paula Seay ($30 fee)

• 2-3 p.m.: Felting demonstration — Lois Burbach (no charge)

• 3 p.m.: Competition winners announced

Sunday, May 27

Festival hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

• 10 a.m.-noon: Spinning Faux Boucle — Nancy Wilson ($30 fee)

• Noon-1 p.m.: Circular Sock Knitting Machine demo — Jessica/Tom Threlkeld (no charge)

• 1 p.m.-2 p.m.: Children’s Story Time — Jim Smith (no charge)

Ongoing

• Demonstrations of all kinds at the various vendor booths — carding, spinning, weaving, felting, knitting, etc.

• Interested in fiber-producing livestock? You will find several knowledgeable folks, including Brenda Wanket and her Scottish Highlander Cattle and angora rabbits, and Linda Smith and her sheep.

• Sonny Gustamontes shears sheep and alpaca on the raised platform outside on the hour.

• Competition Finished Products, Fleece and Handspun Yarn will be on display after 3 p.m. Saturday.

• The silent auction is available from 10 a.m. on Saturday until close at 2 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit http://pagosafiberfestival.com or call Bev Modisette at

(970) 883-2246.

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