This weekend was the 1830 Rendezvous and Spanish Colonial Art Market at The Fort, sponsored by the Tesoro Cultural Center! The weather on Saturday and Sunday was perfection after a deluge on Friday night – more rain here in the Denver area we do not need, after September floods…but then Saturday the sky cleared and transformed itself to that deeply saturated blue that is especially evident during Indian Summer in Colorado.
Oh what a fun weekend it was, just 20 minutes away from my door to the legendary FORT RESTAURANT, founded by the great Sam Arnold, now deceased. The Fort is located on the outskirts of the charming town of Morrison, adjacent to the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater and just 300 yards off Highway 285, which winds farther up the canyon to places like Conifer and Evergreen, my old stomping grounds. There was art, crafts, music, dancing, storytelling, Mountain Men, and more this weekend. In addition to the market, The Fort was also the location for one of the “paint out” opportunities offered to artists with the Colorado Plein Air Festival event, so artists were abundantly sprinkled on the restaurant grounds under massive red rock formations and out on the surrounding high meadows, with Denver off in the distance below. The hilly meadows are lush from the unusual rains – looking as though deep green terry cloth has blanketed the countryside. The trees are in various stages of turning, depending what altitude you are. In other words, the setting felt divinely inspired for this particular gathering.
If you like Mountain Men – the real deal – they were everywhere, dressed out in their local garb, all fringed and beaded, posing for pictures if you were polite enough to ask permission and staring you down with kind but beady eyes that reveal a wild but genuinely unique lifestyle at its best. I felt like I was at a photo shoot for Nat Geo, but ill-equipped with only my cellphone for taking pictures. Still, you get the flavor of things….
The food was elegant “gourmet cowboy”, to put it mildly. Sam Arnold used to be on Denver radio talking food long before foodies were named foodies, sharing recipes and folklore. We feasted at Friday night’s opening reception on Mexican chicken, guacamole extraordinaire, chorizo and refried bean dip, and the beer and wine was flowing. In the main courtyard on Sunday, elk filets were being grilled on an open fire – whether or not you are a meat eater, whether or not you are a hunter, you had to admit the aroma was irresistible and the authenticity of the scene was genuinely 1830.
The craftsmanship of the silver jewelry, the leather and wool clothing, the folk art, the skins, the bows covered in rattlesnake skins was museum quality and the talent of the artists was evident in the fine plein air art ( art that is created out in the open air, taking into consideration the rapidly changing light, weather, sun patterns, etc) being accomplished that day. It was creativity heaven this weekend, especially so if you happen to believe that you were a cowgirl in another life – the only explanation I can think of for my deep affinity to this type of authentic 1830 era lifestyle and art. But that is for another time and a different discussion!
I have included many photos with my blog this time, revealing of the local color and the general ambience of the experience.
The Tesoro Society is “dedicated to protecting and making available to the community the artistic treasures of our American past” and they are such a success at doing just that. What an experience it was!