There was no shortage of art, sunshine, laughter, food, music or for that matter, places to sit down.


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The third annual Los Alamos Chair Faire on July 28 was a sit-down favorite for participants from far and near. Yet another quirky and inventive creation of C Gallery’s Connie Rohde, the idea is to bring commerce and visitors to town all while promoting the arts and supporting the Olga Reed Elementary School.

The problem with Los Alamos Old Days is, that with the street blocked and so many vendors from out of town, the affair tends to be an economic disaster for the village’s local businesses, says Rohde. “I might as well close my doors that day.”

So, while Rhode is supportive of Old Days, she was looking for something new and different that didn’t conflict too much with the other events happening around the Valley, she says. What she was looking for had to be fun and blend what the town needs with its passions. Her efforts gave rise to the Chair Faire. The main idea of this event is “fun” says Rohde. For merchants, that translates into lots of foot traffic and curious newcomers darkening doors to see what’s inside. For visitors, with the sidewalks lined with all sorts of things to look at, no-hassle parking and plenty of other unusual happenings, it makes a visit to the quaint village all the more enjoyable.

Laura Novak, from Goleta, and Pam Kane, from Santa Barbara, have attended all three years of the event. Year one they came as observers, but for the past two they’ve loaded up the chairs they spent the year designing and making, paid the nominal entry free (all of which goes to the school) and sat down to enjoy the day and sell their wares.

By noon, Novak had sold three of the four chairs she brought and Kane one. “It’s a lot of fun searching out good chairs and then figuring out what to do with them,” says Kane.

“It’s really a cute idea,” adds Novak. Not only does the event lure people to town, it inspires them to create.

Dayana Zepeda, a Santa Ynez Valley High School and UCSB alumni, was also on the inspiring side. She taught a chair painting workshop at Olga Reed, where two groups of students recreated famous Mexican art masterpieces on chairs in a process similar to that used in many chalk festivals. The chairs were raffled off, with proceeds going directly to the school.

But not all the chairs were pieces of art. There were high-end antiques, practical seats and even saddles for your equine seating comfort. And there was no shortage of entertainment, food and even a musical chairs contest to go along with sidewalk shopping.

Off The Griddle Old Time String Band played the morning away at The Art Yard, a lot adjacent to the C Gallery, which was transformed for the day to an outdoor exhibit space. Also in the Art Yard were many demonstrations, including Artist Russell Smith, who was performing “air assault” in the style of Jackson Pollack. A gigantic “Edith-Ann” chair, crafted of branches by sculptor Albert McCurdy, was in use as part of the “Adorable Photo Contest.”

Down the block a bit, at Arthur Ferrini Park – just down from the fresh vegetable and lemonade stand the school hosted – the Grass Mountain Band performed, sharing the stage with nationally recognized storytellers Angela Lloyd and Michael Katz – who combine the ancient art of storytelling with the brilliance of New Vaudeville.

Full of Life Flatbread Restaurant was at the park, too. “The locally sourced, organic and no GMOs (genetically modified organism) crust and toppings are much different from other places,” says Gary Clark, as he pulled a made-to-order pizza from the traveling wood-burning pizza oven.

Lunches were also available at Café Quackenbush, Bell Street Farm Eatery & Market, Ghost Rider’s Tavern, Charlie’s Burgers, and Los Alamos Market. As visitors filled their eyes with art, their tummies with delicious tastes and an occasional adult or two partaking in wine tasting, the event slowly drew to a close. Ron Miller added the final exclamation point to the day with his free concert at The Union Hotel.

struax@syvjournal.com