Claudine Riddle and San Juan County will celebrate an anniversary this Labor Day weekend.

This year marks 20 years that the Totah Festival has given the local American Indian community a venue that recognizes its art and culture.

The festival will feature a total of

102 exhibitors, a rug auction and a powwow Saturday and Sunday at the Farmington Civic Center.

Riddle has endeavored to develop a festival that not only recognizes the art, but the culture of native people. Her idea took some time to succeed as she prodded community leaders to recognize the benefit of showing off the talents of locals.

She deserves a thank you from everyone in the Four Corners for her years of dedication and hard work maintaining this showcase and outlet for authentic American Indian creations.

The event kicks off at 6 p.m. today with a private reception and poster unveiling, sponsored by Riddle. It opens to the public Saturday morning with vendors and the powwow.

People interested in the rug auction will be able to view the rugs prior to the auction beginning at 2 p.m. This is an earlier time for the auction, which will feature handmade rugs displayed by Miss Northern Navajo.

Shawn Lyle, Totah show co-chairman, said the time change came out of need. "It was to try to make it more appealing and convenient for everyone."

Another change this year is to show off new trends in American Indian works of art.

"We'll show contemporary artwork being done by American Indians," Lyle said, adding the contemporary portion of the juried art show includes experimental works and photography.


"Santa Fe and other Indian markets are doing the same thing," he said.

There typically is a lot of art jewelry at the Totah Festival and the city does its best to ensure the work is authentic in sterling silver and real stones.

"If they're selling silver, it is really silver," Lyle said. "The vendors like authentic work."

The Totah Festival is a free event open to the public and sponsored by the city of Farmington. While it is expensive to run and organize, the American Indian vendors are given lower booth rates than expected at other festivals.

"My main philosophy is take everything we've got and make it run successfully," Lyle said.

After the auction on Thursday, the festival opens at 9 a.m. Saturday for rug viewing, with vendors opening at 10 a.m., the same time the contest powwow begins.

Sunday's contest powwow begins at

10 a.m. and runs until 6 p.m. Vendors are open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You tend to take for granted the rich culture and boundless talent that you live around.

Visit the Totah Festival this weekend and become reacquainted with the culture and talent in our own back yard.