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Libraries go beyond books and buildings

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Photo submitted The tomato-themed fashion show, featuring models clad in tomato-inspired attire, starts at 2 p.m. during the festival. Pictured above are the participants of the 2016 fashion show.

Librarians across the globe are stepping out into their communities this month in celebration of "Outside the Lines," a weeklong event in September demonstrates the creativity and innovation happening in libraries.

Since 2014, "Outside the Lines" has inspired an international grassroots effort to reintroduce libraries to their communities. This year, there are 220 participating organizations in the United States, Canada, Australia, Ghana, Italy, France, Croatia, Estonia, Brazil, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Libraries host events in parks, at fairs, and on busy city streets, all in an effort to get people thinking about libraries in a different way.

"Delta County Libraries has participated every year," says Sarah Pope, Hotchkiss librarian. "Our annual Tomato Fest has been a great way for us to collaborate with the community, celebrate the harvest, and have a ton of fun!"

Pope, an avid gardener, is a key organizer of the event in Hotchkiss and a driving force behind the Delta County Seed Library. The festival will feature seed saving demos, tomato taste testing, a tomato-themed fashion show, a book sale and contests for prettiest, ugliest, biggest, littlest, tastiest, and best-dressed tomatoes.

"We will also be announcing the winners of our annual tomato haiku contest," Pope says. "We received over 80 entries this year all of which are judged by local writers Rita Claggett and Christie Aschwanden. The winners are invited to read their haiku to festival attendees and it is always a highlight of the festival."

In 2015, Robbie Winne, owner of The Rose, inspired an impromptu fashion show during the festival. The Rose, a thrift and consignment store, provided a great place for finding clothes, shoes and accessories in all shades of tomato red, yellow, orange and green.

Last year, the first official tomato fashion show featured models of all ages parading through the Creamery Park to a soundtrack of tomato-themed music. "It was a blast," says Syneva Blatchford, one of the participating models from 2016. "All of us were able to search the store for items to wear -- shoes, hats, belts, clothes, jewelry -- anything that reminded us of tomatoes. The effect of all of us walking into the park in different variations of vivid, over-the-top, ensembles was definitely a crowd-pleaser."

Pope is excited for another year of the fashion show and all the other highlights of the festival. "There is something for everyone, really," Pope explains. "Whether you want to enter one of your tomatoes in the contest, eat delicious tomatoes, walk in or watch the fashion show, listen to poetry, learn about seed saving, browse the book sale or just hang out in the park, this festival is for you."

The fourth annual Tomato Fest will take place at Hotchkiss Creamery Arts Center on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 1 to 3 p.m. Entries for the various contests are accepted right up until 1 p.m. the day of the festival. The fashion show will start at 2 p.m. Contact the Hotchkiss Library at 399-7781 for more information. For more events information, visit http://www.deltalibraries.org/calendar/.

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