Gas prices soaring past $3 a gallon didn't deter Valley visitors from making their annual holiday trek to the Pine-Strawberry Labor Day Arts and Crafts Festival.
Held Sept. 3 and 4 at the Pine Community Center, the Labor Day festivities drew hundreds of bargain hunters eager to escape the searing desert heat in favor of cool mountain temperatures.
Among the biggest draws of the event were the many booths and tents where artisans from around the Southwest hawked handmade items from wooden cooking spoons to hand-painted rocks.
Vendors at a wiener wagon, snow-cone machine and kettle corn stands were kept busy cooking up finger-licking delights eagerly devoured by young and old alike.
Each morning of the festival, the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department cooked up an old-fashioned pancake breakfast and served it to early risers.
Members of the Strawberry Elite service club joined in to help the firefighter.
Sue Montgomery, of the Pine-Strawberry Fire Department, said Kiwanis members asked the firefighter to take over sponsorship of the breakfast because the club's membership had dwindled to the point the club was not able to host the benefit.
The proceeds from the breakfast, which have not yet been totaled, will be used by the fire department to purchase much-needed supplies and equipment.
The Strawberry Elite will use their share of the profits to fund humanitarian projects in the area.
Some visitors took the opportunity to visit the town museum, where artifacts dating back to the 1800s when Mormon pioneers first settled the two small communities of Pine and Strawberry were displayed.
Another popular draw in the museum was a video presentation on the life and times of the early pioneers.
Some visitors traveled about 6 miles northwest to the one-room Strawberry Schoolhouse. The school, now on the National Register of Historic Places, was originally built in 1885 of hand-hewn pine log. It has since been fully restored and outfitted with period desks, chalkboards and school books.
Dan Rankin, of Mesa, said visiting the schoolhouse was like taking a step back in time.
The arts and crafts festival was the final of three held this summer in Pine. All three drew overflow crowds.
Others were held Memorial Day and Independence Day.