This is the fourth year of this Sierra County Arts Council event. The Art + Ag Trail is a collaborative undertaking with creative contributions from the artists, the producers and many local organizations, history buffs, and other volunteers.
“Stop by one of the three Trailhead sites; pick up a map, a food list, an event passport; and off you go to explore the many assets of Sierra Valley at your own pace,” says event organizer, Kristi Jamason.
The three Trailhead sites – in Beckwourth, Vinton and Sierraville – will be open by 9:30 a.m. The remaining 11 sites are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Passport, Prize Drawing & Dinner
Traveling the Sierra Valley Art + Ag Trail is free, but a donation of $20, which helps pay for the costs of putting on the event, will earn guests an event passport and 2 prize drawing tickets. The passport is a limited-edition booklet with color photos from Sierra Valley and places to collect stamps as guests travel the trail. Organizers have made small rubber stamps for every site and exhibitor along the trail to stamp visitor passports.
“The prize drawing is not your typical affair,” says Jamason. “The vast majority of the prizes are works contributed by participating artists. Our artists and exhibitors are quite generous, and it makes for a really special prize drawing.”
The prize drawing is held at 4:30 p.m., at the Sierra Valley Grange Hall after all the other event sites have closed. Following, is a grilled tri-tip dinner put on by the Plumas-Sierra Cattlemen’s Association. The dinner helps fund their scholarship program. A short live auction by local rancher-comedian Rick Roberti follows at 6 p.m. to benefit the Art + Ag Trail.
Passports, extra prize drawing tickets, and dinner can all be reserved online via the Reservations page of event website: SierraValleyArtAgTrail.org/reservations.
Art – Gyotaku to Pysanka and all points between
This year’s Art + Ag Trail will feature close to 50 local artists whose work spans many media – glass, fiber, pottery, stone, metal, wood, paint, jewelry, basketry, photography and more. Marty Flora makes prints by painting actual fish and impressing them on paper, canvas, and cloth (Gyotaku). Melissa Hays painstakingly waxes and dyes real eggs – many from her own birds – with intricate designs (Pysanky). Rand Nash turns thin strips of cedar and other woods into beautiful kayaks. Several artists work with recycled or reclaimed materials –tin cans, burned candles, and bits of lumber – turning them into attractive, functional items. There will be artists who work with precious metals and semi-precious stones, artisans who make botanicals from their own goats’ milk, flowers and herbs, artists who carve and decorate gourds, turn animal fiber into clothing and blankets, pine needles into baskets and so much more.
“Discovering the hidden artistic talents of our region was an inspiration for this event,” says Jamason. “And I had no idea. Every year, more amazing artists turn up, and I learn about art forms I never knew existed. It has been an act of discovery to put on the event, and I’m sure it will be equally so for those who travel the Trail.”
Agriculture – Barns and Beauty
Another inspiration for the Art + Ag Trail was the agricultural heritage of the region. The Sierra Valley Art + Ag Trail provides a rare opportunity to turn down the dirt lane and actually go to the grand historic barns sprinkled around Sierra Valley, where you can learn about the ranch and farm operations and see these huge barns built with hand-hewn timbers and wooden pegs a century or more ago. The event features cattle ranches, a sheep ranch, two market farms (one with a pumpkin patch), and many exhibitors with an agricultural theme, including FFA and High Sierra Heritage Fruit Preservation, where Jennifer Kennedy shares her expertise in caring for heritage fruit trees in our climate.
History – tranes, planes and… tennis?
The event features the history of the barns, as well as other industries and people from the region. The Milton Gottardi Museum in Loyalton has old logging equipment, household, retail and medical treasures, and a finely detailed miniature replica of pre-WWII Loyalton with an o-scale model train running through it. The event also features displays about historical figures with ties to Sierra Valley, such as botanists John and Sara Lemmon, explorer Jim Beckwourth and tennis star Alice Marble. The Sierraville School, which is a Trailhead for the event, was recently listed on the Register of Historic Places. Publisher Jan Buck will have a 70th anniversary of the Sierra Booster display set up at the Gottardi Museum site, featuring videos, photos and stories about the paper and her father, who was known for flinging newspapers from his airplane to subscribers in far-flung places.
Great Food – fare with local flair
Foodies on the Trail won’t be disappointed. Chef Sean Conry and the Feather River College Culinary Arts Program will be making several lunch entrees at Sierra Valley Farms using heritage pork from Beckwourth-based Sage Eggs & Ham. Harvey Farms will be making family-recipe Basque chorizo sausage, made with Harvey Farms lamb, instead of traditional pork. The Grange will be selling by-the-slice homemade apple pie featuring fruit from local trees throughout the day. Many of the restaurants around the Valley will also have Art + Ag Trail specials. A handout with food options and where to find them will be given out at Trailheads.
Friendly Farm Animals
Visitors will find many friendly farm animals along the Trail. According to his owner, Bonnie Hollitz, Eddie the mule thinks he’s a golden retriever. Sierra Valley Yaks like guests to feed them snacks. As does Diddly the alpaca who will nibble his kibble from your hand. There will be goats – Moe & Joe and Marshmallow. There’s Calamity Jane, a Scottish Highland cow, and Applejack the miniature horse. FFA of Loyalton will have farm animals in the outdoor yard of the Museum site in Loyalton and will be happy to share their experiences with husbandry.
Demonstrations & Activities
The Art + Ag Trail is not just a spectator sport, say organizers. Visitors can press cider at the Grange, spin wool with a drop spindle or weave with a rigid heddle loom at Harvey Ranch, lasso a roping dummy at Diamond G or the Goodwin Ranch, or try their hand at watercolor paints, collage, avian trivia, zucchini car racing, egg dying, felting a bar of soap and more. Guests will also find many fun fall games for the kids at the Lil’ Megs Pumpkin Patch site in Beckwourth.
More information about the event is available at SierraValleyArtAgTrail.org/ and through multiple daily posts on Facebook at facebook.com/SierraValleyArtAgTrail/.
Three Trailhead sites are the place to start on the Sierra Valley Art + Ag Trail to pick up a printed map of all 14 event sites and more. Trailheads will be open by 9:30 a.m. on September 28.
- Sierraville School – 305 Lincoln Street, Sierraville, CA
- Sierra Valley Farms – 1329 County Road A-23, Beckwourth, CA
- Sierra Valley Grange Hall – 92202 Highway 70, Vinton, CA