More than 40 vendors, civic groups, non-profits and activities booths are expected at this year's Cherry Days festival. From Aunt Nancy's yarn marionettes to Annette's famous Toadstool Face Painting booth, the Civil Air Patrol and the Paonia Bike Club, more than 40 booths mean something for every taste, age and interest.
This year, 14 new vendors are expected. Among them are Milner CNC's metal wall art and engraved items; Getting a New Life's barn wood signs, stuffed animals from old chenille quilts; The Bible Church Center offering free bibles, literature and children's crafts; and Alchemy Hydrosols.
Hempothocary offers locally made CBD products. Owner Eva Odle uses locally-sourced and -produced cannabidiol oil in her topicals, tinctures, infused honey and dog treats. While not a lot of research data is available, people have reported that dogs with arthritis, pain, seizures and anxieties react well to CBD, said Odle.
This will be the 26th Cherry Days for Tara Miller Claywork. Since 1991, the husband-and-wife team of Tara Miller and Sam Brown has offered hand-thrown, functional pottery -- platters, mugs, bowls, and fruit baskets woven from coils of clay. They use Cherry Days to sell seconds, those not-so-perfect, but still functional pieces, mainly because they figured people are looking for a good deal, said Miller.
For a few years Miller served on the Cherry Days committee in charge of vendors. The one year they missed the July 4 celebration was spent at another show in Denver.
Miller first made pottery in 1972 while teaching high school English in Coos Bay, Ore. "I just needed to go play in the mud," she said. She took a year off from teaching and worked as a potter, and went full-time in 1982 while living in Aspen.
In 1984, she and Sam were married. They partner on some of the pieces, said Miller. "I glaze his work, he glazes mine."
In the fall of 1990 they moved to Paonia. At the time, booths sold mostly imported stuff, said Miller. After their first Cherry Days the Merchant Herald reported that there was actually quality pottery at the festival.
They have a new product this year, ceramic planters that come with their own plant.
They also offer textiles made by an extended family living at Taquile Island in Lake Titicaca, Peru. They first traveled to Peru in 1986 and came home with several items and started selling them at fairs.
Tara and Sam trade solar equipment for textiles. The hats, gloves and ear bands are knitted mostly by the men. Counter to American culture, she said, "You must knit to be considered a real man." The women weave local wools into purses, belts, hatbands and scarves, using intricate and very detailed patterns.
While living in Aspen they hosted some of the family members and took them to the Carbondale Mountain Fair and other art shows. Their guests gave presentations and textile workshops. "That sealed our relationship with the extended family," said Miller. They now have godchildren in Peru and defined ceremonial relationships with their Peruvian family.
Tara and Sam work a few other shows, including the Mountain Harvest Festival, and give public and private presentations to groups, including the San Juan Weavers Guild.
The couple now makes annual trips to Peru. While products are beautiful and well-made, selling them is "a little tricky," said Miller, since few people want to try on a winter hat when it's 100 degrees.