Yampatika starts yearly event

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What: "Unmask Your Colorado Critter" fundraiser for YampatikaWhen: 7 to 9 p.m. todayWhere: Olympian Hall, at the base of Howelsen HillCost: $10 at the doorCall: 871-9151

— Tonight, Yampatika will kick off its new signature event, "Unmask Your Colorado Critter." The event is modeled after The Mask Project, in which more than 400 hand-painted clay masks are auctioned off to raise money for the Hospice in Denver.

Yampatika tailored the fundraiser to its mission of environmental education.

Earlier this summer, 26 local artists were given blank clay masks. They were asked to recreate the face of any animal that calls Northwest Colorado home. Artists were allowed to use any medium.

Among the mediums used by artists are paint, papier-mÕche, collages and faux fur.

Unmask Your Colorado Critter is expected to become an annual event, joining Yamp--atika's seasonal lineup of events that includes the Edible Feast in the spring and two llama treks in the summer.

The masks are a perfect piggyback to Halloween, even though they are designed to hang on the wall and not to be worn, Yampatika executive director Deb Fuller said.

Masks were made by Keri Searls, Lisa Koch, Milly Judson, Cindy Wither, Jane Dulin, Anne Roony, Pam Houston, Erica Gallagher, Gail Hanley, Vera Crockett, Sue Schneller, Rebecca Chea, Diann Ritschard, Bruce Hawkin, Shara Johnson and Angie Gamble, among others.

Tickets for the event at $10 at the door, which includes light fare and non-alcoholic beverages. More than 30 local restaurants donated food for the event.

Attendees will be asked to cast a vote using $1 bills for their favorite mask. At the end of the night, the masks will be sold in a live auction. All proceeds will go toward Yampatika's environmental education programs in Northwest Colorado.

"We hope this will become an annual event," Fuller said. "Mostly, this first time around will be a way of introducing the event and to get artists excited about next year."

-- To reach Autumn Phillips, call 871-4210 or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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