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A fair share of old-time community fun

April E. Clark
Arts and entertainment contributor

CARBONDALE — Third Street Center board members remember all the smiles, laughter and joyful memories of attending the state fair as kids.

They hope the inaugural Third Street Center State Fair and Chili Cook-off will bring back that feeling of childhood magic and camaraderie from 4-7 p.m. today.

“What we are trying to do with this event is invite people to come and get to know Third Street Center again, like the excitement of going back to the state fair we enjoyed as youngsters,” said board member and event organizer Kat Rich. “Third Street is more than just a place where nonprofit organizations have office space and artists have studios. Like a state fair, Third Street really is a center of community that delivers a place with vibrancy and connection. ”

Located at the former Carbondale Elementary School, the refurbished, eco-friendly Third Street Center’s State Fair and Chili Cook-off is geared to fairgoers of all ages. The center’s nonprofit tenants and artists will host the first-time family-friendly festival featuring complimentary face painting, live music, environmental education, local food, and games.

“There are some great old school carnival booths the tenants are coming up with,” Rich said. “Fishing, a cake walk, musical chairs, those type of activities.”

Third Street tenant Carbondale Chamber of Commerce is participating by hosting the fishing booth with Carbondale-specific prizes, said Andrea Stewart, chamber executive director.

“Our members have graciously provided us with a wide variety of prizes including water bottles, bookmarks, reusable bags and more,” she said. “We call it a ‘friendraiser,’ and we feel it is a great way to not only gain friends but awareness of the Third Street Center and all of the tenants it houses.”

Stewart said the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will join in the fun of feeding the state fairgoers onsite as well.

“We’ll also be submitting a yummy chili for the cook-off,” she said. “Third Street Center is a great location, and the working relationships we’ve built in the two years that we’ve been at the center are priceless. The energy and vibrancy within the building is a great thing to be a part of.”

Third Street’s diverse performing artists — ranging from the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folklórico dancers to Irish-American musician Jimmy Byrne — will entertain at the event. Nonprofit arts organization Aspen Santa Fe Ballet will present its cultural dance troupe composed of valley children who take part in the free, after-school instruction in Mexican folkloric dance.

“Obviously there will be some great entertainment,” Rich said. “There will be so much going on.”

A career musician since 1999, Byrne is a familiar face around Carbondale and Third Street Center. He is musical director for Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist, which meets most Sundays at Third Street. He is widely known for his spirited Irish ballads and wit along with his well-sought-after piano and guitar instruction for children and adults.

“On an average day at Third Street, there is a huge diversity of folks who come in and out of those doors for all kinds of different reasons,” said Rich, an acoustic guitar student of Byrne’s.

Along with live music by local music makers such as Byrne, Lynn Byars and Ananda Banc, the fair also hosts visual arts projects involving the valley’s youth. The Davi Nikent Center for Human Flourishing offers the “Glowfire” interactive black light art exhibition by Conor Johnson. And the center’s children’s mural will take a state fair spotlight.

“There is a big art project going on with the Ross Montessori middle-schoolers as they start to make the tiles to restore one of the TSC murals,” Rich said.

Rich said the center’s environmental nonprofits such as the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) and Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) will take part in the fair festivities by sharing their passion for a greener world for the next generation.

“There will be some informational booths about planting trees,” she said. “And green alternatives to kitchen/party supplies.”

Rich encouraged fairgoers to continue the festivities into the evening by attending the opening night of Jayne Gottlieb Productions’ “42nd Street” at 7 p.m. at the PAC3. The center’s in-house performing arts venue presents the Tony Award-winning musical throughout the weekend that stars many of the valley’s trained young actors and singers.

“The facility and the people who utilize it need our support, so this inaugural fair is a good way to start,” Rich said. “If it all goes the way we envision, the event will be a perfect example of the community and what it has to offer.”


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