by John Aldrich
This year's rug show was held from November 12th to November 14th and was again a heart-warming success. Twenty-eight Elders and weavers, along with their families, traveled from the reservation to Deer Valley in Park City for the event. As always, the show proceeds were all returned to the reservation to help see the families through the upcoming winter.
Although the public portion of the show starts Friday evening and extends through Sunday, there is actually much more that happens at the event. Planning, of course, extends throughout the year, but the real activities begin on Wednesday when many volunteers gather at the Snow Park Lodge to set up the show. It seems like a daunting task at first, but with many seasoned veterans on hand, the transformation takes place in roughly five hours. The following photo shows Becky Harris with the group that helped set up the central table with displays of jewelry, dolls, and other craft items.
The Navajo families begin arriving Wednesday afternoon and are escorted to condos that have been donated for their use during the event. Each condo has been stocked with food for the next five days, and on Wednesday evening a welcoming dinner is held. This year a local Navajo family offered to cater this meal which made it an even more special event.
On Thursday and Friday school children are invited to come to the show to witness demonstrations of Navajo culture. Coordinating this with the schools, teachers, children and their parents is a big job and was handled capably this year by Masuda Medcalf who is seen below with the first round of students on Thursday morning.
While at the show the children get to see demonstrations of weaving, yarn preparation, corn grinding, and hear about other aspects of Navajo culture; they also listen to singing and story telling. At the end they also get a taste of traditional fry bread. In the next photo students watch attentively as Elders weave.
Thursday afternoon, after the final school program, entertainment is provided in the form of a "game". This year the theme was quilts. Over forty hand-made quilts were made by volunteers and then presented while being "modeled" by volunteers. Elders and weavers could then choose by quilt or model.
Thursday evening a dinner is held at the Grub Steak Restaurant in Park City with the food donated by the restaurant. This event provides an opportunity to honor various people who have worked on the show or who have otherwise made significant contributions to the Program during the year. Program co-founder, Grace Smith Yellowhammer, received one of the new Pendleton ANE limited edition blankets.
Friday night is the official opening of the show to the public. This is a fund raiser for the Program and includes an auction which was again very successful as well as entertaining.
Over the course of the following two days a variety of events take place in addition to the selling of rugs and crafts. Saturday morning is the time to crown the new Shi Yazhi princess. This year the honor fell to Sariah Williams.
On both Saturday and Sunday weaving demonstrations are conducted during which each weaver has a chance to describe their rugs and what weaving means to them. Here Julius Chavez, a fine local male weaver, describes the great cultural significance of the weavers' tools.
Saturday afternoon is the time for the popular Navajo Grandma Idol contest. Loosely based on the American Idol model, the participants are given a theme and have only a few minutes to come up with a related song. This year the theme was herding sheep and the winner, Carol Blackhorse, was the oldest Elder at the show. At 96, Carol is still going strong, and her family has a challenge keeping her off her horse.
The annual veterans ceremony is held on Sunday morning. During this moving event, all veterans in the audience are individually honored. We often have a Navajo Code Talker as guest speaker, but this year we actually had two. This is very unusual as there aren't many of these heroes left.
The final event of the show is the popular Pow Wow featuring singing and a variety of dancing. A crowd favorite every year is the hoop dancer.
This has been just a quick overview of the event. If you are interested in seeing additional photos you are invited to view a slide show of pictures from the event.
But nothing can take the place of actually being there, so we hope to see you all next year.