Painters, jewelers, blacksmiths and other craftspeople gathered in downtown Mancos on Saturday for the town’s annual street fair.
About 20 vendors set up booths on the Grand Avenue block between Main and Mesa Streets, which was closed to traffic all day. Although organizer Carrie Baikie said a few artists stayed away because of a morning thunderstorm, most of the day was dry and sunny. Baikie said all proceeds from vendor booth fees would go to the Pay It Forward Fund, which benefits Mancos residents in need.
Many of the vendors had been coming to the fair for several years. Most were from the Mancos area, but there were a few exceptions, like Nadeem Mull, who runs the furniture store Ultimate Home in Albuquerque. He has made the trip to Mancos three years in a row in order to sell imported rugs and baskets at the fair.
“It’s a nice show,” he said. “The weather’s always beautiful, the trees are turning – it gives us a reason to come out.”
Mull said he plans to expand his business to Colorado soon with a new store called Durango Rug Co.
Other wares on display at the fair ranged from landscape paintings to jewelry to T-shirts. Mancos resident Bryan Kyle sold artwork made from gourds and papier-mache alongside his wife Angela’s organic lotions. The Mancos Lions Club sold hot dogs and other snacks at the main entrance to the fair, and representatives from the Mancos School bond committee handed out promotional materials for the district’s ballot item in this year’s election.
One of the most well-attended booths belonged to Steve Williams, owner of the Cowboy Forge in Mancos. Williams has been in the blacksmith business for about 20 years, he said, and he’s spent the past four years teaching his skills to young people. He and several of his students set up a temporary forge in the street and gave demonstrations, while the students sold the weapons, armor, jewelry and art they had made at the forge.
“There is a romance about blacksmithing,” Williams said. “When you start doing this, you forget about the rest of the world. You forget all your problems.”
He said he comes to the fair every year, not only to help his students sell their creations, but also to recruit more apprentices. While blacksmith work is often grueling, he said he has seen a growing interest in making things “that will last forever.”
Local musicians Marilyn Kroeker, Lynne Lewis and Tim Hillard provided live music throughout the fair, which lasted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Baikie said she was pleased with the number of people who decided to attend despite the day’s stormy beginning. This was Baikie’s first year organizing the fair, and even though she only had about a month and a half to prepare for it, she said she felt it was important to keep it going.
“I found out no one was going to spearhead it, and I was like, ‘What? There’s not going to be an arts and crafts festival?’” she said. “Mancos is an arts community.”
Baikie, who heads the Mancos Chamber of Commerce, said she appreciated the “eclectic” group of artists who regularly participate in the event.
Most of the Grand Avenue art galleries were open during the fair, which was followed by the opening of a special exhibit at the Kilgore American Indian Art gallery.