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Default Mountainair shines at annual Sunflower Festival

By pengwen
Mountainair, NM – Sunflower Festival organizers were cheerful after the annual one-day bash of fun and fine art in the high country on Saturday, Aug. 25– as cheery as the sunflowers alongside the roads and the brightly painted art and artifacts.

The Manzano Mt. Arts Council reported sold-out sales of t-shirts, aprons and raffle tickets and some vendors reported their “best year yet” after the event.

Even the weather cooperated, offering a warm but not overly hot afternoon for meandering around Mountainair, savoring the sights, tastes and sounds of the day. In the Dr. Saul Community Center, 30 vendors offered everything from books to retablos. The hat contest, quilt raffle drawing and chile contest added to the zest of the day. Over in the Shaffer Hotel’s wonderfully shaded side patio, an audience of up to 100 people enjoyed the 10th annual Poets and Writers Picnic.

In between, as well as down around the road, sunflowers sprang up on painted glassware, wall hangings, pottery, home décor of all kinds, clothing – well you get the picture. Even the kids of the community participate in this one, with student art on exhibit in various locations. Judging from what we saw of the youth art, this community will have many more years continuing the tradition of a Sunflower Festival and Retablo Show.

As usual, I didn’t get started until later than I wanted and just missed the hat contest, since I had started on Broadway at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop and then on to the Cibola Arts Gallery. There, the sunflowers were in full bloom during the artist cooperative’s annual Sunflower Show. It’s always great to see Anne Ravenstone, who was sporting delightful sunflower earrings, and who affably welcomed all to the Gallery, including a writer with New Mexico Magazine. (Watch for next year’s story to preview this great event.)

Anne and I reminisced briefly about the first time I met her. Anne was the first person in Mountainair that I met – and welcomed me and my still conceptual magazine, Steppin’ Out. Anne has blossomed just like sunflowers over the intervening years and along with her fabulous tin and old wood works, heads the youth art sunflower exhibit coordinated through the schools.

As I was leaving the gallery, Bert Herrman was coming in and was happy to share his photos of the hat contest and others taken at the community center. Thanks, Bert!

Next door, or rather just outside the gallery awaited some of the so-called “alt.sunflower”, annual sunflower-children Judy and Ron along with Mountainair newcomers, the Phipps, with their Clips ‘n Pix. Judy and Ron are another couple I met from the first days of Steppin’ Out. When I lamented that I was sorry Stonetree Gallery wasn’t open, Judy said firmly: “I’m not!!!” She began painting glassware only a few years ago and continues her wonderful alt. Clothing and attire as well as paper and fabric dolls and sculptures. She was also bursting with news of a major announcement in October. (We’ll keep you posted.)

Next, I ambled over to the community center, enjoyed the array of art and crafts and hat creations including one wore by the lovely Mary Schultz, always a hard-working artist. Among those we met this year is Rose Smith, Mountainair’s only silversmith, whose sunny disposition matches her lovely craftsmanship. A member of the Cibola Arts Gallery, her work is on display there year round. We like her work a lot but were struck by the incredible bone-carved and hand-painted feather earrings made by her grandfather, Ed Begay of Gallup.

The drawing for the quilt by Mayor Velma Gilley brought cries of dismay from those who didn’t win but applause for the fundraising effort. All tickets were sold and the winner was said to be an out-of-towner who frequents Mountainair.

No Sunflower Fest would be complete without a stop at the Shaffer Hotel and the outdoor Poets and Writers Picnic. The lovely garden makes a great place to sit, relax and enjoy the spoken words of area poets and writers. Compliments to Poet Dale Harris for her work in making this such a great event!

For pictures of the Sunflower Festival, please visit this gallery



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