The Salida Fiber Festival, now in its fifth year, boasts a regional reputation as a major wool and fiber event, rivaling the 33-year-old Taos Wool Festival. Featuring more than 50 vendors, the festival will take place from at 9 a.m. until until 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, in Salida’s Riverside Park. Previous fiber festivals have attracted thousands of visitors to downtown Salida, making it a major arts event in Colorado’s inaugural Creative District.

Local, regional and out-of-state vendors at the 2016 festival will offer natural fibers, roving, finished goods and garments along with one-of-a-kind art pieces. The festival will also feature demonstrations in weaving, spinning and felting; children’s activities; and a silent auction of vendor-donated products.

To celebrate the festival’s fifth year, organizers will present the inaugural Fiber Art Exhibition beginning Friday, Sept. 9, in the Salida SteamPlant Paquette Gallery, 220 W. Sackett Ave. The exhibition will feature entries covering the spectrum of fiber art, from felt and woven articles to tailored clothing and paper. Everyone is invited to the grand opening from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 9, featuring light refreshments and a cash bar. Voting for the People’s Choice award will take place during the opening, and the exhibition will continue throughout September.

The festival will also feature classes in a variety of fiber arts. Sharon Dalrymple will teach a class on creating and spinning art batts. Dalrymple has raised rabbits since 1997 and specializes in hand-spun 100-percent angora yarn and fiber. She also blends angora with other fibers such as pygora, mohair, alpaca and silk. She teaches spinning classes in the Colorado Springs area and at the Taos Wool Festival.

Cheri Paxson will teach a drop-spindle spinning class in which participants will learn a technique for taking control of “singles.” A fiber artist and knitting entrepreneur, Paxson opened Pax Knits in 1988, designing knitwear for the recreation industry. Cheri designs and teaches out of her “Art Barn” in rural Longmont, where she raises fiber-producing llamas and alpacas.

Sandee Jaastad will teach how to knit with beads, a way to satiate the current fashion appetite for bling. Advanced beginners can learn various ways to incorporate beads into knitted fabric, changing an everyday garment into something special. Jaastad loves weaving, knitting, crochet, needlepoint, sewing, dyeing and spinning. She is a past president of Heart of the Rockies Fiber Guild and has written several articles published in Handwoven magazine.

Big Batts and Puni Rolags, a spinning class taught by Peggy Doney, will explore a variety of techniques for using drum carders and blending boards to create works of art that are almost too nice to spin. Doney is rarely seen without a spindle or a wheel in hand. She is always seeking something new to learn at her wheel or in the dye kitchen and believes that new adventures are best shared with others.

The threads of Salida’s fiber festival were spun in 2011 when a local group of friends visited the Taos Wool Festival and began weaving a plan to create a fiber festival in Salida. Supported by local fiber enthusiasts, alpacas, sheep and paco-vicunas, the group organized the first Salida Fiber Festival in 2012, featuring 38 vendors from Colorado and surrounding states. For more information, visit salidafiberfestival.com.