Both of my parents have passed on now and are buried just south of Payson. While driving from my home in Cottonwood to put spring flowers on their grave, it came to mind of how I was told that my mother was responsible for starting the Pine/ Strawberry Arts & Crafts Festival.
It was during one of my mom, Faye Barton's, tole painting classes that she instructed that Lynn Gardner mentioned, "We ought to show these pieces and maybe some might even sell."
Well, Mom felt that was a great idea, and she and the class began discussing the possibilities. It was agreed that all entries should be of a hand-made nature and original. Mom was elected president and she suggested that it should be a nonprofit organization and that any profits should be donated to local charities.
In the fall of 1980, the first Pine/Strawberry arts and crafts festival was held at Irene Cook's, who opened her home for all to see the Christmas-themed displays.
Soon after, the fair had moved to the old Pine Elementary School, now the Community Center. Within a few short years, the fair had increased to 65 booths at $10 each and was now held three times a year.
In 1985, the Rim Rescue squad held a pancake breakfast and asked the fair members to join them as a contribution to help aid the "squad." Other charities contributed to were the Scouts, the Volunteer Pine/ Strawberry Fire Department, the Library and the Food Bank. This is still the case today.
Besides Lynn Gardner, the original members included Betty and Lindy Kelly. Diane Mitchell joined the second year, displaying her beautiful dried flowers and, along with her two young sons, made huge chocolate chip cookies. Laverna McCrum remembered my mother as a patient art instructor and enjoyed my father's sense of humor.
Francis and Webster Wilford displayed crocheting and plants.
Elsie Aronson's embroidery so impressed Lynn, that she suggested she enter the fair.
Loraine Horton told me that mom gave her the background she needed for her successful tole paintings. She went on to study under Priscilla Hauser, and is on the board of directors in the Pine/Strawberry Art Guild. Today, the mailing list for the guild numbers over 350 people from several states.
I hope that visitors to the Pine/Strawberry Art Guild, will remember the names of these originators listed above and, in particular, the name of my mother, Faye Barton, its first president and co-founder. She was some kind of lady and a great mom.
Robert Barton, Cottonwood
Editor's note: This letter was cut to fit within the Payson Roundup's 400 word policy for Letters to the Editor.