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Piñon Ridge Crafters have joined with state parks volunteers to put on an event, the El Vado Day and Crafts Fair scheduled for Aug. 27 on the shore of El Vado Lake, a 17-mile drive west of Tierra Amarilla on Hwy. 112.
The Crafts Fair will run all day, featuring local handmade art ranging from paintings and jewelry to furniture making. The day’s program begins at 9 a.m. with the Butterfly Dancers from the Jicarilla Apache Nation.
The day is filled with programs highlighting everything from the history of the area’s sheepherding and weaving tradition, to the events leading to the establishment of the original village and its demise some years later.
Standing on the shore of the lake as it looks today, it takes a hefty imagination to picture the bustling activity and the dense unbroken pine forests that climbed the hills before the turn of the century.
The “company” town of El Vado was home to laborers employed in a huge sawmill operation that cleared the land of its vast ponderosa forest in just 13 years.
Presenters and demonstrations include: retired New Mexico State Historian Robert Tórrez, born and raised in nearby Los Ojos, and an authority on local history; Irene Smith from Dixon, who has been making baskets and fiber vessels since 1974, and has many years' experience as a conservator of Native American basketry; Kay Lewis, a fourth-generation New Mexican living in Santa Fe who has perfected and will demonstrate the art of colcha embroidery; Amilia Casaus Elliott of Patience Grasshopper Therapeutics in Chama, who is an herbalist; Los Ojos resident and santero Leroy Lopez, who works in wood, clay, paints, stone, wire and more, to fashion jewelry, wood carvings, drawings and paintings; and from Wildlife Rescue Inc. of New Mexico, educator and wildlife rehabilitator Peggy McCormick will use live raptors to teach about their history, habits and threats to their future.
Rounding out the demonstrations are the folks from Tierra Wools in Los Ojos, who have created and maintain a modern doorway into the ancient and traditional way of life that has linked sheepherders, wool gatherers, dyers and weavers for generations.
Afternoon attendees will be treated to a rare occurrence—the first ever release of catchable rainbow trout into El Vado Lake by Peter Thompson, manager of the Los Ojos Fish Hatchery.
Food concessions will be open. Also featured is an interactive booth where children of all ages can get theirs faces painted, build a small working toolbox and create a rag-weaving loom, all to take home.
Due to the uneven terrain attendees should wear closed-toed shoes. Entrance into the park is free to visitors with annual passes or who are current members of the Friends of Heron and El Vado Lakes State Parks. Others will be required to pay a day use fee of $5 per vehicle.
El Vado Lake State Park is located 17 miles west of Tierra Amarilla, off N.M. Hwy. 112. Call 575-588-9115 for event information, 588-7171 for crafts fair registration, and 588-7247 for state park information.