The Salida Fiber Festival 2017

Yarn is one of my favorite things.

Yarn is inspiration and chances, ideas and creativity. Thousands of possibilities in just one little skein.

The Salida Fiber Festival was held September 9-10 in the incredible Arkansas Valley about 120 miles from Conifer. Held in Riverside Park in downtown Salida, the venue is incredible. The park was filled with the smell of grass crushed underneath a few hundred feet of fiber-art enthusiasts, a quiet beer garden and lots of ways to spend your money. It was heaven.

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The trip was perfect fun. Drew and I travel well together and this time we brought Monika along. Monika needed a break from some sadness in her life and road trip was just the ticket.

Drew, Monika and I drove down on Sunday (amazingly enough my Forester made it) road-tripping complete with Diet Pepsi and Lays’ Potato Chips.

Fiber festivals are really living art shows in motion. Yarn is alive and vibrant. Pick up a skein and you can feel the weight of it. The softness or coarseness. Cashmere or wool, both have a story to tell. Master weavers make cloth with intricate pattens and complicated looms right before your eyes. Glass blowers made delicate beads with a blow torch while the audience watched from a respectful distance. Spinners twist delicate fibers into spools of multi-colored threads in all variation of thickness and combination.

None of the artisans were dressed in business attire. Most wore their colorful creations with tell-tale fiber hints of their craft. They engage in easy conversation and are passionate about their chosen art. They’re fun to talk to. Knowledgeable about their products, there’s no shyster hawking of wares. It’s their passion that’s on sale.

When I needed a break I sat by the clear and meandering Arkansas River, a place where you can sit and watch time pass by.

The Arkansas River in Salida

The Salida main drag is a composite of old and new; old buildings house new businesses and fashionable galleries. Brew pubs are on the same street as old-school bars where laughter and shouts drift out the front door.

We ate The Fritz and was treated to wonderful and inexpensive sandwiches and interesting beverages. The service was spot-on and we ate on the patio. The day was so nice we didn’t even really notice the loud bunch of cyclists at the next table who probably ride four across down the road. We consoled ourselves with ice cream at a local shop with crusty little tables and knick-knacks on the walls. I ate the caramel ice cream.

Salida holds the past like a lover and even boasts a 5-and-10 store. The best find was a really nice canvas bag for $8.77 (no idea how that price came about) and Reed’s Root Beer Candy and Spree Tarts. The back wall of the store is filled with t-shirts proclaiming the merits of the Harley Davidsons. I wish I’d bought the wind chimes that reminded Drew of the movie Twister. They had a cool sound.

Drew and I stopped and made pictures as is our wont when we travel. We both made some really nice images. My only regret is we didn’t get a picture of the three of us together. I guess old habits die hard.

Sometimes you go on a road trip and you’re stuck with really sucky people. People with no ability to talk about things other than themselves or perhaps maybe have brought a gallon-size Ziploc bag of drugs on the trip. That happen in a trip to Monterey where I got stuck ferrying a group of students from San Francisco to Monterey for a SocDoc class. Later on, one of the trip’s organizers told me that since they didn’t know me very well they put the pill pusher in my car. I still haven’t forgiven Marilyn for that one.

Another time I went with a friend to her daughter’s wedding in Breckenridge. In a last-minute surprise change of plans I got stuck with the friend’s friend in my car and she talked politics all the way up the mountain. On the way home, she slept the entire trip and it was a good thing. She was going to be left standing by the side of the road with her cheap luggage and smelly pillow.

On the way to and from Salida we talked about lots of things. We can also enjoy silences and empty pauses. Most of the time it’s just because someone is eating a Lays’ Potato Chip.

I spent too much money on yarn and came away with a few patterns to try. I met the lady from Conifer who runs a yarn shop up here. I watched a spinning demonstration and she gave me wool and a spindle so I can participate in her Wednesday spinning class. We talked about the ancient art of spinning and a lady who was giving a demonstration said the first time she sat at a wheel she knew she’d done that before in a past life and decided to embrace the ancestral call and spin and learn everything she could. I’m almost afraid to go to a spinning – spinning wheels are expensive and I know I want one.

A short spinning demonstration in Salida

We left after a few hours loaded down with fiber treasures and full bellies. We past the miles talking and processing problems as only a good road trip can facilitate. One of the best days I’ve had.

We wore out Monika on our trip and on the journey home she conked out sitting straight up, the first time I’ve ever seen someone do that.

That’s what friends are for. Filling the miles of days with talk, laughter and fun. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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