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No, it's not a typo, Ridgway is not spelled with an 'e'. One of the most beautiful places in Colorado, Ridgway is a junction in the road on the way to or from some better known towns such as; Telluride, Ouray and Montrose. Ridgway was the site of the original "True Grit" and the local True Grit Restaurant celebrates its part in movie history. Nestled in some of the finest scenery you can imagine, known as the "Swiss Alps of the west". This little show was in the town park (where the hanging scene was filmed) with half being in shaded grove and the other half in sunny open areas. The show is sponsored by the Weehawken Arts Center which provides arts programs in Ouray County. My wife has a thing about doing shows with private promoters who are too cheap to provide even a bottle of water and it never fails to amaze me that the groups with seemingly the least to offer provide the most (within their means). This was certainly the case in this show. The director came by frequently to ask how things were going, they provided (if needed) booth sitters, bottles of water were handed out regularly, coffee/tea and treats were available during the day and, although it wasn't fancy, they had some munchies available at the awards ceremony on Sat. evening. I know that ribbons and fancy awards are not inexpensive to provide but there were awards in every category ( I received 1st Place in Photography!) as-well-as best display, and best of show. Saturday was slow getting out of the post but "crowds" materialized in the middle of the day and slowly ebbed by the end of the day. Sunday, though overcast and a little drizzly, was a little faster near the opening but quickly faded by the end of an earlier day (4 pm closing time). Show patrons were effusive with compliments about the art but less so with spending. Items in the $7-18 range moved a little more briskly and an occasional large item was seen with legs. The mixture of fine arts and crafts is a hard sell and not usually my demographic. Given the beautiful setting and the generous treatment of the artists it was a shame that sales were not equally impressive. Why did I do the show in the first place? Well, I was hoping to maybe find a little local gem that would be easy to get to (half a day from Denver) and not be as expensive as some of the larger shows that I've done recently. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The Telluride Festival of the Arts (TFA) was this same weekend and is produced by the same people that do the Cherry Creek show. The show is located in the mountain village, not the town of Telluride and I would be interested to hear what the attendee numbers were there. I had been wait listed for that show and don't know if I would have been better off or not. Although it was happening on the same weekend I don't think it had anything to do with the sales at the Ridgway show being so off. 


I've taken to making a lot of lemonade in the last year and one highlight of being at this show, or maybe I shouldn't give out the secret?, is the Orvis Hot Springs and Spa about a mile south of Ridgway. The natural hot springs were a welcome respite from an otherwise dismal sales weekend, we met lots of friendly people in the 100+ degree pools and soaked our war weary bodies in the healing waters at days end (and beginning too!)... Or maybe did I just do the show as an excuse to do the hot springs?

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Comment by Annette Piper on August 17, 2011 at 5:33pm
Brian, thanks for the review and you're right the scenery is stunning!    It sounds like a good little show, but with small ones you can't force the buyers to come .... then again it only takes one or two to change that, so keep trying!  Congrats on your award too!
Comment by S Brian Berkun on August 17, 2011 at 10:53am
Yeah, just when i thought people were beginning to have fatigue from NOT wanting to spend the market loses 500 pts! Oh well!
Comment by Robert Leuallen on August 16, 2011 at 11:22pm
Great review Brian, my raku artist wife & I lived in Montrose for 10 years (moved to Paonia couple years ago), did the Ridgway show couple times, didn't seem to be our buyers. Indeed a great setting and they put on a good show, Orvis is fun. As to your mention of folks keeping their hands off their wallets, I suspect with the economy and political angst going on, people still like to come look at and appreciate art, but may be thinking best to postpone buying until this National chaos calms down.
Comment by Ruth Finkenbiner on August 16, 2011 at 9:28pm
Congrats on the award!  We love that area of CO, when we lived in Dallas we looked forward to summer vacations, almost every August to CO. My husband loved driving the "million dollar highway".  Sorry your show wasn't better, we're starting to consider some of the CO shows for next year so appreciate the report.
Comment by S Brian Berkun on August 16, 2011 at 8:05pm
Thanks, yes, what a little piece of heaven!
Comment by Kathy Oda on August 16, 2011 at 7:54pm
Congrats on your award! I used to visit the Orvis Hot Springs at least once a year when I lived in Denver. Loved that area!

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