Amy Kimberly, Executive Director of Carbondale Arts (CA) and Director of Mountain Fair, explained that the very first gallery exhibition on the history of Mountain Fair, currently on display in the R2 gallery of The Launchpad, “was planned for years “.
Kimberly explained that many of the exhibits have been “in the trash for years.” She added, “We’ve been dragging boxes and boxes of Carbondale Arts history for as long as Carbondale Arts has been, so 50 years of stuff.” The goal was to organize it and keep it somehow, “so the 50th anniversary seemed like we couldn’t have any more excuses; it was time for that to happen.
A few years ago, Kimberly hired fairground enthusiast Terry Glasenapp to curate and catalog the collection “which had been floating around in various states, as different directors arrived,” she said. .
Glasenapp, who owns photographs, films and newspaper articles that he has collected since moving here in the mid-1980s, has combined and organized the collections. He also used video clips to compile a 90-minute film shown in the gallery’s “living room”, as well as several photo albums of newspaper articles and other ephemera.
Kimberly noted how much technology has changed over the past 50 years, as evidenced by a table with a VCR player and VHS videotape bin nearby. She said, “It’s gone from tapes to VHS to CDs until now when it’s all digital. “
Everything is there on the walls of the gallery – starting with the origin story of the fair and Laurie Loeb, director from 1972 to 1978, head of the drum circle and declared “Mother of the fair”. In 2020, abridged but filled with joy with a flat scene roaming the city, Mountain Fair was elegantly organized under the direction of Kimberly.
Loeb said of the exhibit: “To accumulate so many testimonies and artifacts from the fairs is amazing. They did a great job, and having these archives is really precious.
Last fall, Bonnie Williams and Kim Magee, volunteers with the Carbondale Historical Society (CHS), compiled the 49-year timeline of fairground programs. Williams explained, “We gleaned information about the structure of the Mountain Fair committee, the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities. [precursor to Carbondale Arts] and presidents, ”Williams explained. Marge Palmer and Jessica Markham were other CHS volunteers who helped organize the data.
Over the weekend of this year’s fair, Williams said the CHS will share a booth with community radio KDNK, inviting visitors to stop by and share their memories of the Mountain Fair.
A gallery wall is dedicated to Mountain Fair competitions and contests, with photographs of wood-splitting competitions, cakes and pies, and the official limbo stick on display. There is also an exhibition of Dr Limbo’s Elixir bottles, originally filled with water.
Glasenapp knew Thomas Lawley, the fair’s director from 1987-2002, intimately. He said: “Various animators and people like that over the years have taken a few steps back in order to let more people in.
Laura Stover, who designed the display, had the help of her boyfriend’s mother, Karen Barbee, to sort the newspapers. Suddenly she said, “Karen is screaming out of nowhere, ‘This is my mom!’ “
Barbee found a diary photo of her mother performing on the Mountain Fair stage as a member of the Ginger Cookie Band in the 1970s. Stover said, “She was absolutely enlightened. It was really cool. “Now, said Stover, Barbee has the photo of the newspaper on her refrigerator.
Stover said that while she and Brian Colley were working on the installation, people walked into the gallery and “there would be a tear here, or people would be extremely happy. I don’t think we were able to do that with another series. I think the fair, in general, does this for people every year. But seeing people have that experience when they walk into a room is pretty cool. “
She and Colley worked until the wee hours of the morning to complete the installation when they came up with the tagline “to infinity and beyond”, speculating on the continued longevity of Mountain Fair.
Kimberly said a website would be built specifically for the Mountain Fair story, “so there will always be a home, virtually.”
Kimberly and Luke Nestler of KDNK collected snippets of recorded Mountain Fair history and added stories from community members for Mountain Fair podcasts aired on KDNK.
Nestler summed up the importance of the exhibit by saying, “There’s a lot of history here, and the good thing is it’s the story of the people – it’s from the ground up. , and I love that. And that’s us; it’s just all of us.
The R2 Gallery exhibit is open during Mountain Fair weekend special hours and runs until July 29. A virtual tour is available on carbondalearts.com