By: Amy Hamilton, Daily Sentinel Grand Junction
Intoxicating smells of lavender first greet visitors to Palisade’s third annual festival that celebrates the fragrant and multipurpose herb.
What comes next is even more stunning.
It seems lavender is good for nearly everything.
Lavender vendors on Saturday spiced up the day, offering a number of products from infused cooking oils, treats, soaps, sachets, aromatherapy products and even bug sprays at Palisade’s Memorial Park.
Today, 10 Palisade lavender farms and wineries are open for self-guided tours focusing on all things lavender, and some lavender vendors will be on site during today’s Palisade farmers market.
John Mueller, who with his wife, Carol, own The Lavender Lady and Friends Boutique, 213 Main St., could barely keep pace with demand as dozens of thirsty visitors sipped lavender-infused water at the couple’s festival booth.
“I just filled this up 15 minutes ago,” he said, gesturing to a water cooler filled with cut oranges, plenty of ice and their featured lavender margarita mix.
Mueller said his wife got hooked on lavender after the two attended a lavender festival in Sequim, Wash., in 2006. They soon started selling all things lavender in Palisade, helping to launch a budding niche industry in town. By 2009, a number of local farms started producing and selling lavender, and soon the Lavender Association of Western Colorado was formed.
“It’s just been nuts ever since,” Mueller said.
Suzy Coleman of Grand Junction started cooking with the herb after her daughter gave her a loaf of tasty lemon lavender bread for a Mother’s Day present.
“The first time I tasted something made with lavender I thought I should be smelling it, not tasting it,” she said while creating a small wreath with lavender. “Then it kind of grew on me.”
Jane Winnaman of Olathe also was making a wreath at the festival, returning to the event for her second year. She first became enamored with the light purple herb when she burned her hand on a wood stove. After she applied lavender, the pain subsided and her skin didn’t blister.
Often, she’ll spritz some lavender spray on a pillow to fall asleep. Winnaman’s friend keeps a vial of lavender oil on her at all times and uses it to help deter bugs and also soothe bug bites.
“It picks you up and also brings you down,” she said. “That’s why it’s a lavender festival and not a thyme festival.”
For more information on lavender-based events today and in the future, visit the website for the Lavender Association of Western Colorado, http://www.coloradolavender.org.