There is a touch of autumn in the air of early morning and evening. On the way to Pine from Payson you can see the first hints of fall color in the trees along the highway near East Verde Park Estates.
Celebrating the change in seasons, the Pine/Strawberry Archeological & Historical Society, Inc., is having its fourth annual Rim Country Antique & Crafts Festival at the Pine Community Center Oct. 2 and 3.
"Between 20 and 25 dealers will be in the cultural hall," said Melvin VanVorst, president of PSAHS. Doors are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
The dealers, specializing in antiques, collectibles and country crafts, come from throughout the state, as well as from the many Rim country shops.
Two dealers will also be providing appraisals in the cultural hall, probably on the stage, VanVorst said. This year the service is being done for donations only, he said. The appraisals will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
"There will be an area where people can stand and watch and listen," he said. The appraisers will have lapel microphones so their comments can be heard.
Admission to the Rim Country Antiques & Crafts Festival is free, so donations for the appraisals will be helpful. The event is responsible for about 40 percent of the PSAHS budget, with the funds coming from the booth fees, the very popular deep-pit barbecue and the big silent auction.
"We're doing it a little bit like e-Bay," VanVorst said of the auction. "People can bid on things, but we will also have ‘buy it now' prices, so if they want it, they can buy it on the spot."
Both antiques and collectibles will be available through the auction, plus golf packages, dining packages and new items. VanVorst said the society will accept donations of auction items through Thursday, Sept. 30. The items can be dropped off at the museum at the Pine Community Center until noon Thursday, then brought to the cultural hall until 3 p.m.
The PSAHS is also still accepting vendors, he said.
"We start setting up the exhibits at 3 p.m.," VanVorst said.
The auction items will be on display at the rear of the cultural hall, while exhibitors will be on the main floor.
Among the exhibits will be a display from the Arizona Historical Society by the curators of the Pioneer Museum in Flagstaff and the group's main museum in Tucson. The Arizona Historical Society owns the Old Strawberry School House, managed by the PSAHS.
"Our museum here is certified by the Arizona Historical Society and it has been very helpful to us," VanVorst said. "They helped pay for the restoration of the original Isabel Hunt Memorial Library which is now in Randall Park.
"I'm Gila County's representative on the board, so I am always pushing our stuff and the rest of the Rim country," VanVorst said.
Another special display is planned by the Strawberry Patchers, he said. The members of the group will have their raffle quilt on display and will be selling tickets for the drawing.
On the grounds of the center there will be food vendors, plus a face painter for the children and Saturday the Rim Country Classic Car Club will have its members' vehicles on display.
"They start with a parade Saturday morning," VanVorst said, then the vehicles are parked on the center grounds. "They start polishing them and put up the hoods so people can see what's inside. The guys just love it."
The deep-pit barbecue, put on by Albert Hunt, starts at 11:30 a.m., Saturday. A plate, which includes the barbecue, beans, potato salad, roll, butter and a drink is $7. VanVorst said the barbecue will only be on Saturday and will last until the food is sold out.
The chamber is holding a dessert festival in conjunction with the event. VanVorst said everything -- packages of cookies, pieces of cake and pie -- is supposed to sale for just $1.
Both events are in the Senior Center kitchen.
"No one will go away hungry," he said.
As part of the festivities, and because October is Fire Prevention Month, the Pine Strawberry Fire Department will have some of its equipment on display, including its new ambulance, VanVorst said.
Both the Pine Strawberry Arts and Crafts Guild shop and the Pine museum will be open during the event, he said.
The Rim Country Antique & Crafts Festival in Pine is a true community event with many of the antique and collectible shop owners serving as both sponsors and participants. The first festival was held in July, but when a bad fire season forced the second one to be pushed back into October, it turned out it really helped businesses, VanVorst said. "All the restaurants ran out of food," he said.
"Our major sponsor is the Mazatzal Casino, but many area businesses also contribute," VanVorst said.
Admission is free and there is plenty of parking along Highway 87 and at the Pine Strawberry School, behind the community center.
For more information about the festival, making a silent auction donation or participating as a vendor, call (928) 476-3547.