Art and food highlight harvest festival – Center Post Dispatch

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CENTER — Offering food for thought and food for lunch and dinner on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, the LOCAL! + SCENARIA harvest celebration drew crowds to the Ford Motor Garage in Center and the Frontier Drive-Inn outside of town. Presentations celebrated agriculture and culture through film, music, dance, multimedia, unique architecture, and a French Fry Eating contest.

Event organizers combined sound systems at the Frontier Drive-Inn to showcase music and film. On Friday, a multimedia artist from New Mexico known as Tone Ranger combined a visual display of his work on-screen while he mixed multiple instruments and sound. The Moonshadow Marauders took the stage before the French Fry Eating competition, a trio of vocalists with percussion, guitar, and an accordion.

North of the stage and screen, Ron Rael discussed the “Skylos” he built using a robot, adobe, and helping hands. He showed off the robot in action during the Frontier Drive-Inn preview this summer, but the finished structures quietly gave viewers a glimpse of the heavens this weekend. Rael’s structures look like silos from the outside, yet the clear space within smaller rooms open up to the sky.

On Saturday, Rael joined a panel discussion at the Ford Motor Garage to field questions and describe other projects. A native Valley artist and University of California at Berkeley professor, Rael said his “Skylos hold the sky and connect us to the earth.”

Moderating the presentation, Eric Carpio from the Fort Garland Museum introduced the panel. Emma Reesor, Executive Director of the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, described the challenge of removing more than 600 tires, car bodies, and washing machines from the Alamosa River. Reesor also plugged the group’s annual fundraiser called Rio Reels. Starting at 6 p.m. on Oct. 28, the film festival will take place live at the Ski Hi Complex in Monte Vista and online as well —

Representing the Rio Grande Farm Park, Jesus Flores spoke in Spanish. Participants had printouts with translated text from his presentation, but Erica Maldonado took translation a step further. Maldonado handed out headphones to participants, and she stood at the back of the room to translate every presentation — English to Spanish and Spanish to English.

A “place-based storyteller,” Christi Bode showed a two-minute teaser from the full-length “Farm to Faucet” movie displayed on-screen at the Frontier Drive-Inn after dark. Bode’s film begins with a suggestion to look away from what the river can provide and concentrate on how people will share the water instead.

Sarah Jones rounded out the panel with the lessons she and her husband have learned through their organic farming practices. Now entering a fifth generation of farming, the Jones family manages seven circles or roughly 1,000 acres. They devote about 300 acres to cash crops, including more than 14 varieties of potatoes.

Jones emphasized how spuds can be tough in soil yet ensuring revenue while resting fields can be a challenge. Cover crops don’t cover bills and investing in boutique species can be a gamble. Jones said they have taken a measured approach by checking with chefs in Denver and Boulder first to confirm an interest in their heirloom grains and other crops.

After the panel discussion concluded, most of the crowd stepped outside the Ford Motor Garage to order food from Erica Enriquez, the 2022 Dish SLV Cookoff winner. In addition to winning $1,000 this summer, Enriquez is testing the waters for selling her food on a larger scale.

Photos by Patrick Shea
On top of food, music, and dance, the Local! + Scenaria two-day harvest festival featured art displays at the Ford Motor Garage in Center.
The Folklorica dance group Semillas de la Tierra performed at the Ford Motor Garage in Center on Oct. 1, one of many events at the two-day harvest celebration called Local! + Scenaria.
Designed by Valley native artist and University of California at Berkeley professor Ron Rael, “Skylos” demonstrate how structures built using a robotic adobe construction process can look like silos while offering a clear view of the night sky.

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