Visitors to the Celebrate the Fork artists' displays at Heritage Hall Saturday were treated to some of the finest examples of artistic creation in the North Fork area, from custom pieces by North Rim Glass Studio to a bowl carved from an aspen burl at Smith Fork Ranch.
Bob Heid displayed his beadwork, including an Indian dress decorated with an estimated 700,000 beads, and shared stories of its history. Ned Norton's traditional Western leatherworks started conversations, and James Dawson's oils of the desert Southwest and a large piece by ornamental blacksmith Ira Houesweart were a feast for the senses.
Paonia artist Posie Pozzi offered her home-grown lavender woven into wands and wreaths, and works of beads and stone, while Lark Abel displayed her stunning glass etchings.
Numerous local artists were represented, and visitors were buying.
"It's been beyond my expectations," said Hotchkiss fine arts photographer Mary Hockenbery of the Church of Art, who expressed gratitude to the celebration's creators. "The valley has been needing this kind of event."
"Business has been steady," said Bette Barron Cyr of Crawford, who displayed her airy gel-pen drawing jewelry and assemblage art. Cyr said the event gave her the opportunity to meet other artists, and put faces to familiar names. She is already looking forward to next year's event.
The non-profit North Fork Valley Creative Coalition was at the heart of the event, and supporting coalition members was the goal, said NFVCC secretary and Celebrate the Fork project manager, Dave Mitchell. The coalition is now in its fourth year, and the original board did an excellent job of building a foundation for the future of arts in the valley, said Mitchell. The festival has grown out of their hard work and was created to promote and support the coalition's artist-members.
"It let people know we're there for them," said Mitchell. Keeping the event local was very important to the event's success.
It opened Friday night with an all-local farm-to-table dinner at Heritage Hall. The 230-seat soiree, which sold out, represented the valley's abundance and a long list of growers and producers. From the harvest of fresh foods to the meats, wines, spirits and beverages, everything came from the North Fork Valley.
Diners then danced to music by The Scones.
Saturday's musical lineup represented a broad spectrum of local talent, from gospel and other faith-based performances by local church choirs, local artists and bands, country music by Travis Mann (see feature story on page B3), and contemporary blues by Otis Taylor. While Taylor, who headlined Saturday night's performances, isn't local, the Colorado artist opened for Joe Cocker at the fairgrounds, and was a regional draw, said Mitchell.
While the event will likely pay for itself, more importantly, it supports creativity on a local level. "We tried as hard as we could to keep the money recycling into the community," said Mitchell.
Mitchell said he was asked by a sponsor from Cedaredge why the event can't include the entire county. While it is a North Fork organization, it was a good question, said Mitchell. "We want to become a better player for all of Delta County."