Gourds galore on display at annual Castle Valley festival
by Ron Drake
Oct 18, 2012 | 731 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Children and adults show off their gourd costumes during the tractor parade, which is part of the annual Castle Valley Gourd Festival. Courtesy photo
Children and adults show off their gourd costumes during the tractor parade, which is part of the annual Castle Valley Gourd Festival. Courtesy photo
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From humble beginnings in 2001, the annual Castle Valley Gourd festival has evolved into a major event for Castle Valley and elsewhere. This year, the 11th annual gourd festival is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Castle Valley Community Lot about 20 miles northeast of Moab.

Cris Coffey, one of the founders of the event, says that people come from “surprising places” to participate in the festival, including a couple from Toronto, Canada, who have been vendors at the festival from the beginning and have returned nearly every year since. Bob Ridges of Moab has also been a major participant from the beginning, providing beautifully decorated gourds for all to see.

“It is very gratifying to see everyone have a good time,” Coffey said.

Every year, a local woman is selected to act as the official “Gourdess” for the festival. The Gourdess designs her own unique costume creation using a combination of gourds and imagination and mingles among the participants of the festival.

Gourd artists will begin setting up their displays at 8 a.m. There is no fee to show and sell gourd art or raw gourds, but because of this, sales will be limited to gourds only, organizers said.

The festivities begin at 10 a.m. and will run until 3 p.m. The event includes displays of gourd art and raw gourds, a kids booth, a hands-on booth, demonstrations, a silent auction, a gourd gallery, music, face painting, a puppet show and fortune telling.

A tractor parade was added to the festival a couple of years after the gourd festival began and continues to be a popular part of the event. The organizers invite all who would like to show off their vintage car or tractor to join in. They also welcome gourd walkers, big and small to participate in the parade by wearing a funny gourd hat or other gourd items of their creation. The parade participants will meet at the LDS Church parking lot next door to the Town Hall and the parade will begin promptly at noon.

A potluck lunch is served at 12:30 p.m. Festival organizers ask that people bring a favorite dish to share and plates and utensils if possible. The festival awards ceremony takes place at 2:30 p.m. and take-down and clean up will begin at 3 p.m.

Yrma van der Steenstraeten has taken over the direction of the gourd festival and she says that everything is going well and organizers are expecting a nice turnout. Weather is always a concern, but the forecast looks promising for a beautiful day on Saturday, Oct. 20.

For more information, visit the festival’s website at gourdfestival.blogspot.com.

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