Gourd Goddess Jazmine Duncan stands next to Gourdy the Giant at last year’s Castle Valley Gourd Festival. [Photo courtesy of Jan Thiede]

Who knew there are so many things you can do with gourds?

Castle Valley artist Cris Coffey discovered the beauty and versatility of gourds after she attended a gourd festival in Bluff many years ago.

“It was the first time I was even aware of gourds,” Coffey said.

She and a few friends decided Castle Valley should have its own gourd festival, and hosted the first one in 2001. Coffey will be showing many of her gourd pieces at this year’s festival – some of which will be for sale.

“I’ve used gourds for different uses; made storage pieces,” Coffey said. “More and more, I make gourd constructions,” where she combines different gourds of various sizes to create animals and characters.

Coffey said she has also used gourds to make musical instruments, as well as masks and various costume pieces.

You can check out the functionality of gourds, as well as their artistic potential, at the 14th Castle Valley Gourd Festival on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free.

Gourds have traditionally been used to make bowls, water dippers and pouring pitchers, said festival volunteer Tory Hill. Festivalgoers will likely see some of those types of vessels, as well as yerba mate cups for sipping tea.

“People used gourds in ancient times as canteens, for water storage,” Hill said.

Regional gourd artists will sell their crafted wares, plus, farmers will likely be peddling raw, green gourds, as well as dried gourds that are ready to decorate. At demonstration booths, both adults and children will have opportunities to try their hand at burning and painting gourds that they can then take home.

The festival also includes a gallery where gourd pieces will be displayed, but will not be for sale. The gallery will show how different cultures use gourds, both today, and in the past.

Festivalgoers will also be able to purchase gourds via a silent auction, proceeds of which support the gourd festival.

The only vendors at the festival will be those selling gourds.

“What makes our gourd festival unique is we work hard to keep it small, and intimate,” Coffey said. “It’s small, in scale with our community.”

There will be gourd art and raw gourd displays, a hands-on kids’ booth, live music, face painting, fortune telling, and a puppet show portraying a story about gourds, of course.

Following a short parade at noon is a potluck at the Firehouse, where people generally bring side dishes or appetizers to complement the large pots of chili donated by Red Cliffs Lodge.

Castle Valley singer-guitar player Ted Bright will perform during the day. Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring their own musical instruments to play and jam with others throughout the day as well.

Coffey said her house is decorated with lots of gourd constructions.

“It’s really been fun for me,” she said.

Gourd-based fun returns to Castle Valley on October 17

“What makes our gourd festival unique is we work hard to keep it small, and intimate … It’s small, in scale with our community.”

When: Saturday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Castle Valley Community Lot, Castle Valley

www.gourdfestival.blogspot.com; or Castle Valley Gourd Festival on Facebook; E-mail cvgf@frontier.com, or call 435-259-9320 or 435-259-8508