Friday, June 12, 2009

The Folk Arts Fair

I hadn't been to the annual Folk Arts Fair at the Sharlot Hall Museum for a good three years and this time I barely made it by the skin of my teeth, having spent the early part of the day at the Square photographing the antiquery. This is the first year that the public has been charged for attendance -- and the change definitely cut into the size of audience. Too bad.

As in past years, the focus was hands-on, especially for youngsters. They learned how to make a dolls from corn husks. (Editorial: I think it is a splendid idea for children to learn that there wasn't always a great cornucopia of goodies across the Pacific Ocean ready to turn every visit to WalMart into Christmas. And that there was a time when people, even little ones, had to do for themselves. End of editorial.)

They panned for gold...

...tried their hands at pottery, Indian-style, at the archeology society booth...

...dipped candles (above) and were shown how to make decorative items out of tin (below).

There was even a costume event for the kids. I'm old enough to remember baby bonnets but nothing as huge as what this little girl is wearing. I'm sure she wouldn't be smiling if she had to wear that headgear every day to go out in the sun.

The nurse with the tools of her trade reminded me of how thankful I am to be living in an age in which antibiotics have been discovered. To give just one item worthy of thanks. Another: the insistence on hand-washing.

The chap at right admires old tools, as you can plainly see. He told me he prefers to find a somewhat rusty tool cheap that he can polish and bring up to par. His contribution to the education of modern youngsters: the use of the mitre box to cut wood cleanly on a slant (below).

Wood carvers were present at the museum grounds, as were dyers who use natural dye-stuffs (below). I arrived to late to see the sheep being sheared.

Here, a display of ladies' finery and, below, Sunday-best linens. Note use of indoor clothes drying racks to hang the linens.

Reenactors with stands included The Prescott Regulators (above) and the Arizona Rangers (below). I think I also saw the Shady Ladies elsewhere under another shady tree.

OK, now it's time for the pitch. Two days after the disappointing turn-out, the Courier headline announced that the governor wants to cut the already reduced subsidy for the Sharlot Hall Museum. To ZERO. Gradually, of course, so that the frog doesn't realize he's being boiled. A 20% cut in funding each year for the next five years. Look, guys, the museum is already running on a skeleton staff plus volunteers. Certainly everyone who lives in or near Prescott or who visits on a regular basis should shell out for a membership. If you know of a foundation looking for worthy causes, look no further. If you're a letter writer, how about one to your state legislator or your congressman. While you're about it, ask The One for a few of those stimulus dollars floating around the Washington. Do whatever you can do -- this wonderful museum at the heart of Prescott needs all the help it can get.


Anonymous said...

Hard times for all. Things will pick up, just wait.

Warren said...

Great sequence of pictures!

I agree completely with your comments regarding the corn husk dolls and making toys. Those were quite impressive!

The budget cuts certainly are distressing.

Down here in Tucson, we've seen the Flandrau Planetarium / science musuem on the UofA campus close completely. This was a very popular destination for K-12 crowd to get kids interested in science.

Other UofA museums have shortened hours and added admissions. And the big Arizona State Historical Society Museum down here is part of the same budget cut plan as Sharlot Hall.

Certain elements of the "all taxes are bad" crowd are also using this budget crisis to target activities they believe the government shouldn't be involved in in the first place. Very disturbing and short-sighted.

The crisis is real, and reductions must be made, but there are also some very real hidden agendas currently in play...

Anonymous said...

I just don't get it, Granny J, where do you stick the AA batteries into that corn husk doll?

Granny J said...

steve -- don't we all just wish!

warren -- even the local right-wingers are upset about the proposed cutbacks! Museums are a much more suitable activity for a government than designing automobiles...

boonie -- you just don't get it! They take AAA batteries.

Melanie A. said...

Your earlier appeal to us to get our Sharlot Hall memberships encouraged me to ask for one as a birthday present. I don't even live in Arizona, but I'd like to have the museum open for my occasional visits and everyone else's more frequent ones!

Granny J said...

Thank you so very much, Melanie! I hope that other readers follow your generous example.

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