Orchard House to benefit from Folk Art Fest again

       In preparation for its 100-year anniversary next year, the second floor of the Rock Ledge Ranch's Orchard House will be the beneficiary of the 28th annual “Country Christmas” Folk Art Festival at the historic site.
       The folk-art sales event, featuring hand-made works by more than 200 artists from around the United States, is scheduled Friday through Sunday, Sept. 15-17. Live music and activities for children are also planned. The city-owned, historic-style working ranch is southwest of 30th Street and Gateway Road in the Garden of the Gods.
       It's the second straight year that the festival has designated its earnings to benefit the Orchard House, which was built by Colorado Springs founder William Palmer in 1907 and still needs historical detailing on its second floor.
       “The big thing that makes it kind of exciting is that next year the Orchard House will be 100 years old,” said Kathy Read, owner of the Holly Berry House in Old Colorado City and the festival's founder and organizer. “So we'll have some funds to use and she'll look beautiful for her 100th anniversary.”
       She's also pleased that the State Historical Society has approved a grant request from Colorado Springs Parks that will provide funds to match those raised by the event.
       Festival hours are Friday, Sept. 15, from noon to 6 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 16, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
       Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $2 for children ages 6 to 12. Tickets are good for all three days.
       Other than the elimination of one shuttle bus - the one that ran from the MCI building at Garden of the Gods Road and 30th Street - arrangements for this year's festival are essentially unchanged. The bus had to be cancelled because of relatively low ridership on that bus and drastically increased overall shuttle costs this year, Read said.
       The artisans and crafters will offer their wares in rows of tents set up on the hayfield between the ranch's Rock Ledge and Orchard houses. The event typically draws thousands of people sometimes overflowing the ranch's parking lot. The other two shuttle buses will run regularly through the Garden of the Gods, picking up people from the city park's other lots.
       Read originally started the Folk Art Festival as a small event that would help to sell artwork by herself and other artists she knew.
       It wasn't until the seventh year that she decided to try Rock Ledge Ranch as a venue, actually fitting the entire show that year inside the Orchard House itself.
       Over the years, the festival grew to where there was only room for it outside, Read said. Meanwhile, continuing festival donations along with city funds, grants and other contributions have enabled the gradual restoration of the ranch's Orchard House and 1880s Rock Ledge House in keeping with the historical styles of their respective times. Now the ranch offers tours of both buildings, led by docents in period costume. Such tours will also be available as part of the price of admission for the Folk Art Festival.

Westside Pioneer article