The 8th annual Graham EXPO was a stellar success, with a well-attended festival Saturday that showcased many solid performances from local musicians, along with high-quality art from south Pierce County artists and artisans.
The EXPO is a fundraiser for the Graham-Kapowsin Community Council, which hosts the annual fete as a way to raise money for its on-going operations, especially the liability insurance necessary for protecting its dozen-or-so community organizations that reside under the G-KCC umbrella. G-KCC Executive Director Carol Wright told the Mountain News at the conclusion of the EXPO that her financial goals were met.
“Yup, we did it. We’re good for another year!” Carol said.
For those unfamiliar with this event, it is more than just an artsy-craftsy way to generate some money – it is an expression, even a celebration, of the talents of residents of the Graham-Kapowsin area. As one quip put it, Graham EXPO is like American Idol meets Graham crafters.
EXPO took place in the Frontier Junior High commons, and the stage was filled all day with a lineup of superb performers. A highlight was Josh Thun, one-half of the popular Gullywhumpers, based in Kapowsin; and the audience was further graced by the music of a quirky jazz trio that featured Deej Heath on Caribbean pans and Kelly McLaughlin and Denny Forman on guitar.
In addition, siblings Max and Gabby Marshall led a nifty fiddle quartet that offered a sharp set of old-timey country tunes. In fact, Gabby called a two-tune impromptu square dance as her band performed.
Other acts included a very youthful comedic magician named Owen, who was charming and funny even if a tad clumsy with his magical hats, toilet paper and a writhing red and white snake.
One of the real treats of the day was the quiet crafting of Lorri Ferguson, a skilled lace-weaver and jeweler. Lorri demonstrated her superb mastery of ancient European styles of lace stitching, an art that is so intricate and time-consuming that before the arrival of modern, high-speed stitching machines only royalty could afford lace for their clothing.
“In the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, monarchs purchased their lace by placing a continuous stretch of gold coins, edge-to-edge along the full strip of lace,” said Lorri.
Lorri also displayed a beautiful silver wire lace piece that is at least 150 years old, which she acquired at a professional lace show in Canada several years ago.
In addition, she presented numerous pieces of her bead work and wire jewelry, and had hand-made cards for sale.
Lorri also announced that she is about to convert a portion of her home in Graham to a lace and jewelry-making studio, where she will offer classes in these arts.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the festival was the activity of the Untalan Taekwondo studio from Graham. This martial arts academy presented a steady stream of young Taekwondo students breaking hundreds of pine boards with their foreheads, fists, elbows and feet, and their pumped-up shouts of adolescent energy filled the air the entire day.
In addition, several senior members of Master George Untalan’s group demonstrated incredible feats of martial arts mastery, such as busting with one stroke three concrete blocks layered upon each other. After witnessing such remarkable feats, many young men starred wide-eyed at the demonstrators along with showing smiles of deep appreciation on their faces.
An even more inspiring aspect of the wood-splitting was the fact that each youth was earning a buck-a-board in donations for the homeless shelters operated by Bethel School District’s Youth Resources, Inc. YRI’s Executive Director, Debra Cozzetti, addressed the audience towards the conclusion of the EXPO, and thanked the Untalan members for helping raise money for the two residential facilities Youth Resources manages for Bethel students aged 18-21.
“I thank you sincerely for helping us assist those youth who do not have a roof over their heads for various reasons, but still want an education,” Cozzetti said.
Also inspiring was watching Ms. Cozzetti take the stage and receive some coaching from Master George in the art of halving a piece of wood with her fist. After a few minutes of intense instruction, Cozzetti busted her piece with just one chop, evoking loud applause from the audience, including many of her residents.
As in years past, the EXPO was peopled with strolling clowns, such as Freddy G; demonstrations by G-KCC vendors, like Ellen Hall’s popular Jazzercise group; and community organizations such as Graham’s Evergreen Presbyterian Church and the Graham Self-Reliant Community.