When I took the pine needle basket class, my instructor mentioned that there would be a shuttle bus traveling from our campground to the gourd festival at the Pinal County fairgrounds about an hour north of here. We have old friends from IL that have moved to Tucson and I asked them if they had ever gone. I had a vague notion that my crafty girlfriend and I would go there together, but her husband was also interested in seeing what it was all about, which found Ken hornswoggled into attending the festival as well, forgoing his morning tennis game and afternoon trip to the Apple Store. What huge sacrifices we make for those we love!
The agricultural area we drove though had cotton fields and pecan orchards. The fairgrounds are located adjacent to the Wuerth Farm where many of the gourds are raised. Ken was amazed how many gourd lovers had already arrived before we got there. It was a big deal. There was quite a bit of tongue in cheek as we saw gourds decorated like cowboys riding around on miniature horses and signs saying things like, "I got gored." There were ongoing classes where people learned how to clean and prepare gourds for decoration.
The festival took place in two large buildings. We had to stand in line for twenty minutes to get inside the one where decorated gourds were displayed and judged, grouped by the skill and experience of the artists who created them and the kind of decorations that were used. We were wowed by the skills and creativity that resulted in this decorative masterpieces. Some of the pieces were so elaborate you could hardly tell a gourd was involved.
The other building was full of one hundred vendors selling decorated gourds and the supplies artists need to make their own. There was significant overlap in these materials and the things we have seen at the rock and mineral show. Since I already own two beautiful gourds and the ones I liked best easily cost $200+, I took lots of photos and treated the experience like a trip to a unique museum.