With all its handcrafted jewelry, pottery and even baked goods, the 53rd annual Black Forest Arts and Crafts Guild show is more than a place to buy Christmas gifts or items for your home.
The event's longevity symbolizes the resilience of a community still recovering from Colorado's most destructive fire four years ago.
This year's show this past weekend at the Black Forest Community Center continues to be an avenue for many residents who want to share and offer their creative work. This includes earrings, paintings and photographs, soaps, spices, ornaments and woodwork. Food, such as homemade pies and bread, is also sold.
It was started as an art contest by 11 members of the guild as a way for the small tight-knit community to show off their work, said Pam Devereux, who's been a member since 1982.
Since the 1990s, the four-day event takes place twice a year - once in the spring the weekend before Mother's Day and again in the fall during the first week of November. Some of the proceeds go to a yearly college scholarship awarded to one high school senior in the Black Forest area.
Today, the guild boasts 85 members and its mailing list includes about 2,000 residents out of a population of more than 13,000. The nonprofit organization offers programs in fine arts, decorative arts and crafts and culinary endeavors throughout the year.
"It started because people wanted to get together to sew and paint or do whatever," Devereux said. "It never stopped."
Not even after the June 2013 fire in Black Forest that killed two people, destroyed 488 homes and burned more than 14,000 acres. That fall, the arts and crafts show returned as normal.
Wayne Strong was one of 10 members whose houses burned down in the fire. A retired woodshop teacher, he lost nearly everything, including all of his woodworking equipment that he used for the show.
Nonetheless, he still worked the annual event, helping sell all the handmade items.
"Even the year all my stuff burned," Strong said, "we still came and worked the show, even though we had nothing to show."
His wife, Brenda, said she believes the event has managed to survive because Black Forest residents always support each other, adding that many prefer to shop locally than at some big brand store.
"I think there's a loyalty to each other," she said. "It's a real small-community feel here."
The next Black Forest Arts and Crafts Guild show is May 3-6.