The Montezuma County Fairgrounds teemed with visitors amid warm weather Saturday, temperatures climbing into the 70s as the second day of the Four States Agricultural Exposition commenced.
Tractor trains whizzed by carrying children. Cattle grumbled in the background. Agriculture and equestrian presentations captured the culture of rural living.
And vendor attendance was higher than ever. Many local artisans, makers and bakers made their debut at the 40th annual event.
This year, there were 77 vendors, 12 new from the Cortez Farmers Market, organizer Cindy Clare told The Journal ahead of the event.
For instance, Josephine Wilson is no stranger to running a booth at the expo. But this year was the first she was representing her own custom leather work business: Firedrake Arts.
It all started with a small leather pouch she received as a child from Mexico.
“I wore it around every day for years,” she said.
One day, she decided to learn how to make her own.
She started with moccasins, and has expanded her repertoire to fashion items like gun and knife casings and jewelry. YouTube was her teacher.
“It really suits the area,” she said of her art.
On one side of Wilson was her cousin, Regina Buchholz, selling her baked goods at her own booth.
“I’ve been in the kitchen since I could walk,” Buchholz said.
Before her sat an array of cookies, brownies and other treats. At first, her business, Homemade Country Girl, was all about earning an income, but passion soon followed.
“I just love sharing homemade taste from scratch made with love,” she said.
A family of creators, the cousins were also selling apple cider from their relatives Rick and Gerri Goodall of Bountiful Ridge Farm, as well as landscape postcards from Cassandra Goodall.
To the other side of Wilson was her aunt Becky Busing, who is working on establishing a local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a health organization that promotes clean eating and consuming less highly-processed, refined foods.
“You are what you eat, and food is medicine,” she said.
Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, she said, have a score of health benefits. Busing makes her own for sale.
Busing taught a workshop on fermented food at the expo.
John Davis, of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5231, told The Journal about the organization’s poppy drive, which funds most of the post’s relief fund.
“Everything goes straight to the veterans for help for whatever they may need,” he said.
The poppies are made by disabled vets. The flower is an emblem of memorial in many countries throughout the world.
The symbolism is derived from a poem by Col. John McCrae, who wrote about those who fought and died in France during World War I. A handout from the VFW featured McCrae’s poem, which opens with the line “In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow...”
The poppy drive will continue at the Four Corners Home and Garden Show.
Laura Sparling is in her first year of her business Bella Creations making candles with her husband.
“It’s kind of exciting,” she said. “This is the first time we’re working with everything ourselves.”
Sparling mixes unique candles. Some change scent midburn. Others use scents to play on stories from history. One candle even took the form of a shark. A percentage of proceeds from some candles go to first responders and military.
Tina Duran is also a new business owner at the helm of Abeyta’s Handmade Soaps.
“Me and my fiance were talking about something we could do together that would just be fun,” she said.
Her natural soaps have served as a remedy for her son’s eczema, she said.
Around the building, visitors fluttered from booth to booth, learning about the industries and organizations that represent the culture of Cortez and the Four Corners.
The exposition will continue Sunday with a church service, an antique tractor display, agricultural and equestrian presentations and more chances for children to catch chickens and win ice cream eating contests. County band Ray Young Country Feedback will play throughout the day.