Folk Art Festival nears $1 million mark in donations

       Closing in on a total of $1 million in donations to the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, the 31st annual Holly Berry House Folk Art Festival will pitch its tents at the ranch Friday through Sunday, Sept. 18-20.

Two of the three Rock Ledge Ranch Indian tipis are shown during First Nations Day in 2007.
Westside Pioneer file photo

       About 165 juried-in artisans from Colorado as well as other parts of the country will set up shop in a temporarily fenced-off field area near the ranch's Rock Ledge House. There will also be live music all three days by Jody Adams, leader of the Palmer Divide bluegrass group, and a quilt auction in the Carriage House.
       The hours are noon to 6 p.m. on the 18th, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the 19th and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the 20th. Rock Ledge is off Gateway Road at 30th Street Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $2 for ages 6 to 12.
       Artisans' products will include jewelry, pottery, home décor, collectibles, soaps, lotions and gourmet foods, according to Kathy Read, the Old Colorado City merchant who owns Holly Berry and started the event 31 years ago to help with the costs of restoring the ranch.
       Originally it was a small-scale festival, but grew over the years to where Read has been able to donate $936,000 in all. “It's been a long, very rewarding effort,” she said, noting that the festival donations have ended up bringing even more money to the ranch by being leveraged as matching funds for grants.
       As for this year's festival, “if we could just have some help from Mother Nature, we could could get between there [$936,000] and $1 million,” Read said. “We've just got to get people to come out, and we're bucking the economy too.”
       Read is especially concerned about the ranch this year, because of announced city plans to close it unless a mill levy to boost city revenues passes in the November election.
       Earnings this year are earmarked for two purposes:
  • Furnishings for the second floor room bedroom that formerly housed the Living History Association (LHA)'s period-clothing library. The rest of the house has been furnished in late 1800s/early 1900s style in keeping with the house's construction era, and now that the clothes have been relocated to the West Center, furniture can go in there as well, Read said.
  • The tipis at the American Indian Area of Rock Ledge area. According to ranch manager Andy Morris, the three tipis - two made of hides and one of canvas - are about eight years old and have “taken a beating” from being out on display all that time. The plan is to patch them, using the same specialist from South Dakota who made the tipis for the “Dancing with Wolves” movie, Morris said.
           Read described both of these ranch improvements as “timely, with the ranch in this precarious position.” Even if the ranch has to be closed for any period of time, “these are things we can do that are safe.”
           For those attending this year's festival, all parking will be in the Rock Ledge lot (unlike past years, when spillover parking required a shuttle to pick up people from remote lots).
           Other than the festival, Rock Ledge is currently closed for the season, although special events are scheduled, including the Harvest Festival Oct. 3 and First Nations Day Oct. 10.

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