Rains wipe out half of Folk Art Festival’s annual 3-day business

       Heavy rains washed away about half of this year's three-day Holly Berry House Folk Art Festival at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.

Folk Art Festival attendees stroll between tents along a still-damp dirt walkway during the one dry day - Saturday, Sept. 14. Rains cancelled Sept. 13 and the latter part of the 15th. In rear is the Rock Ledge Ranch blacksmith shop, which was giving free demonstrations.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The first day, Friday, Sept. 13, was cancelled altogether after several days of rain and Camp Creek having jumped its banks in its passage through the ranch. A large crowd flocked in for a mostly dry Sept. 14, shrugging off a long detour walk in, caused by the closure of two flood-damaged creek footbridges. But the event had to be called for good around noon Sept. 15 after the skies opened up.
       The popular sales fest, featuring about 165 artisan/vendors under large tents on the Rock Ledge hayfield, has raised many thousands of dollars for the ranch's restoration in its 35-year history. But with mostly inflexible costs and half the usual income, event founder/organizer Kathy Read said this year she is just looking to “pay the bills.”
       Nevertheless, she expressed several positive sentiments. She was grateful for the thousands of people on Saturday (providing the best sales ever for a few of her vendors), for the 600 or so shoppers who came despite ominous weather Sunday, to ranch manager Andy Morris (who worked into Saturday night repairing the main footbridge for Sunday), to ranch volunteers for helping with the weather-dictated logistics and to the powers that be that “we're alive and nobody got hurt.”
       The last comment was coupled with a reference to the severe flooding north of Denver, where major roads have been closed, entire towns compromised and dozens of people unaccounted for. Some of the vendors who planned to sell at the Folk Art Fest couldn't make it because of road closures in the north; others who did make it weren't sure how they would get back home, Read said.
       But the salespeople who came “said thank you and that it was fabulous and they'll be back next year,” she said.
       The heavy Sunday rains started around noon. The event was called then, but some people wanted to keep shopping, staying dry in the tents, and Read let them do so until about 2:30. Meanwhile, the dirt parking lot “turned into a lake,” Morris said. “I was worried we'd have to pull cars out of the mud, but folks somehow got out on their own.”

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