Pete Pedersen writes names on coyote melons for attendees. (Photo by Emily Black)
MEADVIEW — Children flocked around the table Saturday as Pete Pedersen created personalized coyote melons at the 2nd Annual Festival of the Friends of Arizona Joshua Tree Forest.
Coyote melons are gourds that grow on vines in the Joshua tree forest. As they dry out, they become straw-colored and the seeds make a rattling sound inside. Most of the time, the coyotes get them, but some had been collected to make mementos.
Nearby, Adrien O’Keeffe, from Added Resources, was huddled over small groups of card makers. She was teaching them to use Joshua tree stamps to make cards.
“I’ve been teaching stamping for two years now,” said O’Keeffe. “I’m showing my support by helping with participation. People love to come and participate.”
Attendees were there to express their support for the Joshua Tree Forest, which is super-blooming this year. Large white flowers hang over the tops of the fluffy desert trees, and they are one of the most beautiful sights. Pam Steffen, a board member for the Friends of Arizona Joshua Tree Forest, said that protection is crucial.
“The mission of our non-profit is to preserve and protect the Arizona Joshua Tree Forest,” said Steffen. “In the 1960’s, the Bureau of Land Management was in charge of the forest, but today protection is not as significant as it should be. The event is to promote awareness of how important and special the forest is. It is to educate people on responsible use of the forest.”
Some of the vendors inside the Meadview Civic Association included Kingman Premier Properties, The Voice of Meadview, Grand Canyon Western Ranch, Desert Wonder Tours and Desierto Designs.
“I’m here to get exposure to the Dolan Springs Trail System,” said Sue Baughman, president of the Dolan Springs Trail System.
Bill Purkiss, of Desierto Designs, said he was attending because he wanted to show people his gem polishing. “I love doing demonstrations,” said Purkiss. “That’s the reason I’m here, and because and this program has some of the nicest people in Meadview. They really care about the Joshua trees.”