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Fire memories still vivid, folks pack Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild show

November 2, 2013 Updated: November 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm
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Among items on display at the Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild show Saturday were these festive, lit bottles. (Photo by Garrison Wells)

The only visible evidence at an annual arts and crafts show of the wildfire that roared through Black Forest in June was a skinny wooden sign on one of the displays that said: "Fire Survivors."

Still, the blaze haunted the Black Forest Arts & Crafts Guild's show at the Black Forest Community Center Saturday.

All around it, recovery in this wooded hilly area, continues.

The wildfire - the most destructive in Colorado history - blew through the community in mid-June, destroying 488 homes and killing two people.

Of the dozen artists and craftspeople whose homes burned down, only three showed their wares Saturday.

The fire had taken everything from them.

Still, though the number of artists and craftspeople showing was down, the center was packed with interested shoppers.

Cars overflowed the parking lot onto either side of Black Forest Road.

Inside, bumper-to-bumper shoppers milled.

They were drawn by baked goods, quilts, knitted items, jewelry, paintings and other bits of a rich mix of arts and crafts.

"The line's out the back door," said Donna Hartley, president of the guild.

"This is not the first day it has been out the back door. Thursday morning we had to hit the floor running. It was a madhouse."

Shoppers have come to the 49th-annual show from such cities as Greeley, Denver, Fort Collins, Pueblo, even from out of state, Hartley said.

Hartley feels the pain of the artists who were burned out by the wildfire.

She is one of them.

A painter and hat designer, a few of her hats were nonetheless on display.

"Some of us are putting stuff in regardless," she said.

Artist Donna Johnson also lost her home.

"I lost it all," she said. "All my jewelry burned. We got out with my purse and two dogs."

Normally, she would show a hundred or so pieces of her jewelry.

Since the fire, she's only made 15 or 20 pieces.

The memory of the fire still burns.

The stress from the recovery, including moving into a new home in Briargate, took precedence over jewelry making. Nonetheless, she was there helping with the show.

"All the people in the guild are such down-home, nice people," she said. "Everybody helps each other."

Among shoppers was Ted and Claudia Payton from Colorado Springs.

Ted was in the back of the long line headed toward the cash registers.

His arms held a box filled with baked goods.

His wife was still shopping.

The show, which started Thursday, continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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