Running with the Gourds


Pam Boedeker

Members of the SaddleBrooke Nature Club had an Arizona-Perfect day to attend the Wuertz Farm Gourd Festival. It is held annually at the Pinal County Fair Grounds.

In one building decorated gourds are set up in categories from kids to Grand Champion gourd artists. Blue, red and white ribbons are awarded in the different categories. There are gourds decorated in traditional Southwest style, wearable gourds, carved gourds, painted gourds and gourds with embellishments. There are tiny gourds and gourds way too big to carry. We even saw gourd flower arrangements, gourds made to look like an aquarium, and even gourd lamp shades!

There was another huge building filled with vendor booths and all things gourd-related. There were thunder gourds which, when shaken, sounded just like thunder. We saw kachina gourds and bird gourds, gourd jewelry and hundreds of tools and supplies to make decorative gourds.

Outside in pens intended for cattle were mountains of dried gourds just waiting for someone to pick them up and imagine what they could be decorated to look like.

What would a festival be without food? Yes. BBQ, lemonade, fried bread, kettle corn and anything else your tummy could hold.

Entertainment included a mariachi band and country singers.

The gourd festival has a great sense of humor. One display was called Kindergourden. How about Flash Gourden? One wheeled cart had a gourd running in front of it. Two little horses had gourd riders.

Our second stop was the airfield in Eloy. We munched on food (again) from the grill while we watched skydivers come in for their various types of landings. Some were almost balletic as they tip toed to a graceful stop. Then there were the divers who terrified us coming in at somewhat contorted positions. Quite a few people landed bottom first. Finally, there was a diver who landed out in the cactus. We didn’t see him again.

I was interested in seeing the divers pack up their parachutes after they landed. There is a special building with plenty of space for parachutes to be laid out. It looked like a tedious process with special folds and rolls.

I asked one fellow if he could also fold contour sheets. He said he could fold them into a perfect square!

I had no idea that there was such a facility out in the middle of the desert. They provide indoor diving as well as diving lessons and accreditation. They will even host your next party. Members of our military were among those diving the day we were there.

We had an amazing day and also got to know members of the SaddleBrooke Nature Club a little better. I think the Ostrich Farm may be one of our next adventures.