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Museum of Friends Gala benefit draws crowd but falls short of goal

by Bill Knowles

The Gala Benefit for the Museum of Friends last Saturday drew a large crowd from up and down the Front Range, with visitors coming in from Denver to Trinidad, all showing support for the Museum of Friends and showing the support the project has in Colorado. Photo by Bill Knowles.

WALSENBURG — The Museum of Friends in Walsenburg hosted a Gala Benefit on Saturday, December 2, to raise funds to rehabilitate the Roof and Dick building at 6th and Main. The event drew a crowd estimated to be between 160 to 180 people, and raised $15,000 toward the goal of $66,000. The museum has been able to raise around $40,000 so far.

The funds will be used as a match for a larger grant from History Colorado’s State Fund Grant. Maria Cocchiarelli-Berger, vice president of the museum, hopes to sign the grant contract by the end of the year.

The Roof and Dick building is listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties and is significant under Criterion A in the area of Commerce. Criterion A is a measure established by the Department of Commerce to define population in relation to an urban core. That measure sees a period of significance in commerce in Walsenburg from 1910 to 1985. During that period, the building was an anchor in downtown Walsenburg, housing stores such as JC Penney, Ben Franklin, and finally Duckwall’s. This makes the preservation of the Roof and Dick building important to future development in the downtown core.

Part of the fund raising was through a silent auction of many pieces of art, from paintings to photographs. There were 82 featured artists, including Dean Fleming, PD Garrett, Claude Appel, Christo, and Marilyn Leuszler.

Many notables were present at the gala. Seen were county commissioners Ray Garcia and Gerald Cisneros and his wife Lorraine Cisneros, as well as 3rd Judicial District Judge Claude Appel and his wife Michelle. Walsenburg City Administrator James Toth was also present, as were George Birrer and his wife Monica. Rodney Wood drove his Art-car in from Trinidad to support the project.

There was also an on site caricature artist, Kevin Cordtz, who was kept busy all evening.

Maria Cocchiarilli-Berger, MOF Vice President (L) and Brendt Berger, MOF President hosted the Gala Benefit for the Museum of Friends last Saturday. Photo by Bill Knowles

Also at the gala was the crew from AmeriCorps. The 13 men and women have been working at refitting the warm-up building at the Cuchara Mountain Park and will be leaving the area in several more days. After a hard day working, they arrived at the gala ready to dance and eat.

Art that didn’t sell during the event will be listed and shown on the Museum of Friends website at the “Friends of MOF Group Exhibition” at www.museumoffriends.org, and will remain on view until the end of January. Any purchases or donations at the site will help support the Roof and Dick building fund.

Alys Romer catered the event. As always, the food was delicious and prepared with the idea of food as art

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