Pomegranate Art Festival continues to grow with new location

A popular autumn event for the past 14 years, the Moapa Valley Art Guild’s Pomegranate Art Festival will take place for the first time at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Logandale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday. With record attendance and parking problems in 2008, the Pomegranate Art Festival outgrew its location at the Old Logandale School. Just a mile away, the fairgrounds provide plenty of safe, off-highway parking and room for indoor and outdoor booths and activities. The event welcomes visitors free of charge.

To reach Moapa Valley, drive North from Las Vegas about 60 miles on Interstate 15 to exit 93. Turn south on Highway 169, the road through the rural communities of Logandale and Overton. Watch for the turnoff to the fairgrounds about seven miles from the junction at a corner with a Chevron station. The facility lies just east of the elementary school at 1301 Whipple Ave.

The festival draws exhibitors and spectators from all over Nevada and neighboring states. They enjoy the rural flavor of the event with family-oriented events reminiscent of an old-fashioned country fair. The festival’s juried fine arts and handcrafted exhibits feature only original works with artists and craftspeople in attendance, often demonstrating their skills during the two days of the event. A careful selection process ensures a well-balanced representation of many kinds of arts and crafts. No commercially manufactured items are allowed.

When it began in November 1996, the art festival took up part of a local hardware store’s parking lot. The event moved across the street to a vacant lot the next year, renamed because the art guild started selling local pomegranates and jelly made from the fruit to raise money for an arts scholarship program for local youngsters. The pomegranate venture proved so successful that all the product sold out within hours on the first day. The art guild meets there and displays an art collection started decades ago. Festival-goers still can stop by the Old Logandale School to enjoy the collection, which now numbers 50 original works of fine art by local artists.

During the Pomegranate Art Festival, dozens of artists and craftsmen display art work and handmade decorative crafts in outdoor tents and indoor booths. Several booths peddle the pomegranates and the beautiful jars of jelly. Culinary arts students offer free samples of other foods using pomegranates.

Introduced to the Moapa Valley by Mormon farmers in the 1800s, pomegranates have been a local favorite for well over a century. The sturdy small trees thrive in the desert, bearing heavy crops in autumn of the distinctive fruits now known to be rich sources of vitamins and antioxidants. Local housewives long ago perfected jelly recipes, added the pretty seeds to salads and created other treats from several varieties grown throughout the valley.

When you tire of browsing and admiring the arts and crafts, get a snack or beverage at any of several food vendors and sit for a spell and enjoy whatever entertainment is on the stage. Local singers, dancers, fiddlers, choirs, bands and orchestras line up for ongoing entertainment both days during the festival. Children attending with their families enjoy visiting booths featuring face painting, balloon art and take-home crafts to make.

Veteran festivalgoers know this event promises a fine selection of many items for holiday gift-giving. It helps to shop with cash in hand and several carry-all bags to tote it all back to your car. Raffle tickets for sale near the entrance offer chances to win donated prizes. All proceeds from the fruit, jelly and raffle tickets, as well as a portion of all sales in the booths, go toward the Moapa Valley Art Guild’s scholarship program. The festival generated a few hundred dollars the first year. It now generates several thousand for the fund annually. One of the first scholarship recipients now teaches art in Logandale, the best kind of return on the investment of effort by the community-minded Moapa Valley Art Guild.

Margo Bartlett Pesek’s column appears on Sundays.

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