Posted in Event Reflections

Apple Valley Inn – High Desert Arts and Literary Festival

Apple Valley Inn main building, during its heyday

The Apple Valley Inn, opened 1948, was a popular destination for Hollywood celebrities during the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. The Inn’s website boasts visitors such as Bob Hope, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Richard Nixon, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans during the height of the Inn’s popularity. The Inn was closed in 1987 and has spent the last sixteen years under private ownership slowly being refurbished.

Concept art based on architect Hugh Gibbs’ vision

At its best, the Inn claimed 90 miles of hiking and riding trails, a lake for recreation, a golf course, a heated pool, tennis courts, and two cocktail lounges, both well stocked and luxurious.

Apple Valley Inn postcard
Planter currently in front of the Inn’s main building

Though the Inn has seen better days, the current owners are striving to recreate the history that once lived within its bounds. The entrance proudly displays an old wagon, though not the original, as well as a similar “Apple Valley Inn” sign and cover, visible just above the wagon. The walls within the main building are full of old pictures, beautiful paintings, and a mural that graced the wall before the Inn’s official closing.

Famous AVI mural and history painted in the hallway. Picture found on Apple Valley Inn’s website.
helpful and promotional

It is fitting then, that this beautiful, historically significant site is the location of the High Desert’s Arts and Literary Festival. Taking place on a Saturday in April, the event was open for six hours and free to the public. Approaching the Inn, there were two younger adults standing on the sidewalk near the entrance, waving signs promoting the festival, several of which were posted to help navigate to the event. The parking lot boasted a food truck ready to serve and the entrance was flanked by both a popcorn stand and a snow cone stand. Clearly hoping to portray a fun front in order to attract family elements, it is only upon walking through the front doors that the significance of the location becomes apparent.

Entering the event

The building itself held constant and beautiful reminders of the Inn’s history: old benches and other artifacts, numerous paintings, and the extravagance of some features. Peppered in amongst the older artworks dedicated to the building were the booths, all showcasing unique and incredible art. In the first room alone, there was an abstract painter with astonishingly vibrant colors, a woodworker with truly delicate crafts, three painters with varying subjects, and a woman with gracefully blown glass. The next room only became more diverse with jewelers, painters, photographers, quilters, sculptors, and other artisans. From the desert to beaches, adorable insects to magnificent wolves, delicate glass earrings to wood bracelets, the festival was a place for everyone to showcase their art, whatever that may be.

A room full of authors and readers

Arriving a little after eleven, the event was already in full swing. People bought popcorn and snow cones outside, taking the time to speak with the event organizers explaining that the proceeds benefited local STEM educational programs and scholarships. Every booth inside had the artist next to their displayed works, talking to those who perused and perhaps deigned to purchase some of the art for themselves. An older photographer and another older author had crowds building around their booths, they were so engaged in conversations with their potential customers. The children’s center was bursting with noise as kids got their faces painted, adding a live demonstration of what the art that surrounded them could be.

The festival was a success, both for those who were fundraising for the educational programs and scholarships and for those artists and authors present and striving for exposure. It was truly a community event, something for all ages to come to, enjoy, and learn. Children were exposed to art, younger adults were able to get inspiration, and the older generations collected beautiful crafts and conversations. It was incredible to see how involved all the perusers became with the artist and their art work. All of this community engagement in a truly unique and historic site. Not only did this event provide an opportunity for authors and artists to connect with their audiences, students to fundraise for educational purposes, and citizens to connect with their community, it also offered a glimpse of what the once prolific historical Apple Valley Inn could become if the community banded together and gave it the care and attention it needed.

Apple Valley Inn main building, 2008

For more information on current plans for the Apple Valley Inn:

For more reading on the history of the Apple Valley Inn:

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