Cajun Clay Night returns to the Carbondale Clay Center |

Cajun Clay Night returns to the Carbondale Clay Center

Scott Schlafer
Special to The Aspen Times

Cajun food, a 6-foot-long alligator cake and communal festivities return for the Carbondale Clay Center’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Tonight is the 15th annual Cajun Clay Night, designed to bring the community together and raise support for the center.

The Clay Center works yearlong to provide a fun and interactive community art center for people of all ages and skill levels, according to executive director Jill Oberman. Tonight will be Oberman’s first Cajun Clay Night in her new position. She has been involved with the Clay Center for many years and said she is a firm supporter of what the center stands for.

In previous years, Cajun Clay Night was replaced with Greekopolous toga parties and other themed events. However, Oberman realized that Cajun Clay is a local favorite, so she decided to bring back the community’s preferred event. This fundraising event is what makes maintaining the Clay Center and its various programs possible, according to Oberman.

“We at the Clay Center help feed and support the strong artistic background of this valley,” Oberman said.

One of the Roaring Fork Valley’s most notable artists and this year’s king of Cajun Clay Night is James Surls. At age 70, Surls is getting an entire museum in Carbondale dedicated to him and his work. As a fine-art sculptor, he moved to the valley 16 years ago from eastern Texas for a better quality of life, according to Surls. He began sculpting in 1964 and has received numerous awards for his achievements over the years. However, Surls made sure to note that Cajun Clay Night and his new museum are by no means just about him and his work but rather about the community as a whole. He said he believes in enjoying life but not letting any fame get in the way of his priorities.

“It’s like winning a football game,” Surls said. “You have to be very careful about feeling all great after the game because you might end up losing the next one.”

Regardless of how accomplished Surls has become as an artist, he said he will never forget what the Clay Center has given him and how it has developed his career.

In addition to Surls presiding over the event as king, Cajun Clay Night also will have a 6-foot-long alligator cake composed of more than 30 sheet cakes.

“It is certainly crazy, but it’s also super-cute,” Oberman said.

There will be live music performed by Electric Lemon, a costume contest with prizes, and handmade bowls for children to choose from. The event is from 5 to 8 p.m.

Call 970-963-2529 or email to reserve tickets.

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