The Salida Fiber Festival returned to Riverside Park for its eighth annual event Saturday and Sunday, showcasing different materials, hand-made garments, tools to create products, numerous demonstrations and more.
“Our mission is to have everything from the animals to finished products and everything a creator would need to make a finished product,” Becky Longberg, president of the Fiber Festival board, said.
The festival had 74 booth spaces and about the same number of vendors this year. Longberg said they always have about 70, which is as many as the park can hold, and around 65 percent of those vendors return year after year.
Two of the festival’s more uncommon fibers on display this year come from Navajo-Churro, a type of sheep, and Angora goats.
The Navajo-Churro’s wool is commonly used in blankets and rugs. “It’s very durable and takes dye extremely well,” said Molly Manzanares, owner of Tierra Wools in New Mexico. She also said the fleece doesn’t have much lanolin so it washes easily.
The animal itself is “a little bit wild” and “very self-sufficient,” she said. Its rams are also unique in that they have four horns.
Bonnie Naumann described the mohair from Angora goats as a “luxury fiber.”
“It adds sheen, dimension and strength,” she said. “It’s lightweight and airy, but still warm.”
Other vendors take fibers from ranches and then make products, which were on display in the form of dresses and scarves and other garments. Most of the vendors were also happy to explain their craft to interested people.
An activity tent with “make and take” fiber activities was available for kids.
Twenty vendor demonstrations included topics ranging from 3-D needle felting to small loom weaving and glass blowing beads.
The festival also featured two competitions.
In the Fiber Arts Exhibition, which will be on display at the SteamPlant’s Paquette Gallery through September, Carolyn Nelson of Poncha Springs and her piece “Blue House” took first place. Another local, Sandee Jaastad of Buena Vista, finished second while Albuquerque’s Vera Neel took third.
In the Colorway contest, which challenged competitors to purchase fiber or accessories at last year’s festival, create something fabulous and then bring it to this year’s festival, two awards were given.
Nathaniel Chavez won the people’s choice and Salidan Marny Danneberg won the judge’s award for best use of color.
A beer garden with libations from Soulcraft Brewing, Vino Salida and Wood’s High Mountain Distillery was also part of the festival, as well Whitewater Wraps food vendor.
“It’s great for spouses who don’t want to shop and relaxing after a long day on our feet,” Longberg said about the beer garden.
With steady crowds in the park, the festival was successful again this year.
“We had over-the-top positive feedback this year,” board member Jane Templeton said. “Most of the vendors absolutely love this festival, and we love having them because it’s so much fun.”
“I’m really glad we came,” Manzanares said. “I’m really impressed with the variety of things people are making, and it’s drawn a good crowd.”