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RANGELY I Picnic tables and a smattering of chairs create a rustic treasure hunt among rows of sky-high corn and beets. Music filters through the warm evening air. Sunlight glints off pots full of savory stews and hearty soups. People, young and old, gather to share a meal.
That’s the vision local potter Beth Wiley has for this fall’s inaugural Harvest Bowls Festival, a community fundraiser to raise awareness of and support for several local organizations.
Purchasing a ticket nets attendees a ceramic bowl made by Wiley or studio mate Julia Davis and decorated by local children and community members. At the festival, the bowls will be filled with soups and stews made mostly from Rangely Community Gardens produce and locally harvested meat.
The idea for the fundraiser sprouted while Wiley dug potatoes with her children, 5-year-old Caleb and 3-year-old Zane, during the final day of the Rangely Community Gardens’ Farmer’s Market last fall.
“My kids had never seen potatoes coming out of the ground or ever really seen where their food comes from,” Wiley said. “I started thinking about what a great resource the Community Gardens is. From there, I thought about all the good things offered in this community. I wanted to find a way to give back to some of the organizations that make Rangely so great for families.”
Before moving to Rangely and setting up her Main Street pottery studio in 2004, Wiley worked at the Carbondale Clay Center, a non-profit community art center, in 1997 and from 2002-2004. There, Wiley helped start an annual fundraiser similar to the Harvest Bowls Festival. Both events are a way to celebrate organizations that nourish the community.
Local groups benefiting from the event include New Eden Pregnancy Care Services, Giant Step Preschool and Child Care, and the Rangely Community Gardens, with the Rangely Moms Group pitching in to help. Help One Now, a global relief organization, will also receive a portion of the proceeds.
The organizations involved provide family support and services that not only strengthen individuals but the community as a whole, Wiley said.
As festival plans take shape months in advance, the event is garnering the support of individuals and local businesses. Rangely District Hospital has donated approximately half of the fundraiser’s cost via a discretionary fund donation while liaisons to involved groups have met regularly with Wiley to plan details.
“I see this event as a large, diverse section of the community coming out to have dinner together in a beautiful place to celebrate the harvest time,” Wiley said. “We also want to celebrate and support the great resources we have in our community.”
Keep an eye out for more information about the September event. To get involved or offer support via a sponsorship or donation or to volunteer, contact Wiley at 970-274-1239.