Spring’s Rebirth Has Special Meaning This Year as Beloved Events Return to Sierra & Plumas Counties

By Stephen Kulieke

Having risen from its winter’s den, this American black bear (Ursus americanus), above, struck a dignified pose for its portrait.

Just recently, I emerged from the witness—I mean journalist—protection program after my April Fools’ article was published in The Messenger last week (“’What a Dump!’ Named Official Sierra County Slogan”). Safe to show my face again, esteemed readers?

Leaving behind the shielding shadows for the warm Sierra sun, I was gladdened to find spring has sprung across the county—at least at the lower elevations.

All the signs of the changing season are here. Kayakers have returned to the North Fork to navigate the fast flows. Motorcyclists are again navigating Highway 49 and mountain bikers, off-road trails. Campers with their tents and trailers are staking out spots in Indian Valley and other locales.

Out in the forest, bears are already foraging; leaving Sierra Valley, I saw a beautiful chestnut-colored bruin just off Highway 49 last week leaving Sierra Valley up to Yuba Pass (see photo).

Here at the cabin, a mountain chickadee is busy making its nest in the birdhouse hanging on the black oak.

But what did America’s greatest 20th century humorist Will Rogers say were the two key benchmarks of spring’s arrival? “Poetry and real estate ads.”

You undoubtedly can find both on other pages of this newspaper. You’ll be relieved to know, however, I don’t have a license to rhyme or sell property. So in this column, I will refrain from penning a poetic seasonal ode or describing a cute cabin or ready-to-build lot.

There is a sense THIS spring of rebirth has been sorely lacking the last two years. We are emerging—fingers crossed—from an interminable pandemic hibernation. And with its emergence, we gather, first tentatively and then enthusiastically, as a community.

And what does this mean here in Sierra County and the greater region? Shuttered facilities are reopening and popular, beloved events cancelled in 2020 and 2021 are coming back. Last weekend, the Banff Film Festival returned to Downieville’s Yuba Theatre.

Arguably the region’s biggest event is the Downieville Classic—rated one of the top mountain bike festivals in the world by Outside Magazine—has been postponed until next year. The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship expressed its disappointment at the decision, calling it a “necessary decision.” SBTS promises the Classic will be back “better than ever” for its 25th anniversary in 2023.

Nonetheless, it promises to be an eventful spring-through-fall. What returning events are you looking forward to attending? Following are a few I excitedly anticipate, along with a bulleted list of others.

Music at the Mine

The live summer music series held at what is deservedly called the “coolest venue for miles and miles around” returns this summer to the beautiful amphitheater located in the Kentucky Mine Historic Park in Sierra City. (The vibe at this special locale is terrific, and I’m not just saying this because I can walk there.) Six concerts sure to inspire you to hit the dance floor are being held from June through August, each featuring two bands, and kicking off June 25 with The Golden Cadillacs and the Merrygold Duo. You can bring your own food and beverages, and picnic on the grounds prior to the shows. The official line-up flyer will be out shortly, and you can learn all the latest at their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MusicAtTheMine) or by contacting Chris Stockdale at cstockrock@gmail.com or 530-277-6408.

Sierra Nevada Field Campus Offerings in Art, Science, and Nature

From June through August, the SF State Sierra Nevada Field Campus offers an impressive array of adult learning classes and workshops at its beautiful site along the Yuba River’s North Fork near Bassetts. Whatever your interest—from astronomy to photography, landscape painting to Northern Sierra geology, fly- fishing to birding, and bats/butterflies/moths to trees/fungi/wildflowers—you’ll likely find a fascinating course of study here. The hands-on, three-to-six-day classes are open to all, designed to be practical and accessible, and to take you out in the field to the great outdoor classroom of Lakes Basin and Sierra Valley. Accommodations and meals are available on site, making it truly a nature camp for adults. Located on land leased from the U.S. Forest Service, the facility has been in existence since 1949, undergoing various uses until the late 1980s when classes were first offered to the general public and every summer since—until the cancellations of the entire 2020 and 2021 schedules. “Many people have been coming up here religiously for many years,” said Field Campus Director J.R. Blair. With the reopening looming, Blair’s already feeling “an air of excitement. People are chomping at the bit to come back and again experience the magic of the field campus,” he said. “It’s not unusual for there to be a biology, art, and writing class all at the same time [with students] feeding off each other’s passions.” For general and registration information: https://sierra.sfsu.edu.

Sierra Valley Art + Ag Trail

OK, I’m skipping ahead to the fall on this one, but I can’t contain my excitement at the welcome return of this terrific celebration of the art and agriculture communities of Sierra Valley. You will enjoy an “awesome autumn day” on September 24 traversing the jewel of a valley and having a “rare opportunity to experience local art, historic barns, market farms and working ranches.” You’ll visit privately owned, 100+ year-old dairy barns built with hand-hewn timbers and wooden pegs and decorated on the outside with “barn quilt” geometric blocks. Inside and around the barns, artists will be displaying and selling works in many media—wood, paint, glass, ceramic, metal, fiber, and more. You’ll also learn about historic and present-day livestock and hay production operations. The event in the spectacular valley spans Plumas and Sierra Counties, and children’s activities make it something for the whole family. Find out more at their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SierraValleyArtAgTrail/), website (https://sierravalleyartagtrail.org) or by contacting sierravalleyartnag@gmail.com or 530-428-5016.

Other Noteworthy Events

Listings and details on the many other great things happening in our area this year can be found at the events pages of the Sierra Chamber of Commerce, the East Sierra Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Lost Sierra Chamber of Commerce:




Here are some prominent upcoming events the chambers are featuring for you to put on your 2022 calendar:

  • Downieville Easter Egg Hunt (4/16) and Native Daughters of the Golden West Mad Hatter Tea Party (4/23)
  • Sierra Valley Grange Farm and Garden Festival, Vinton, 4/30
  • Sierra Timberfest 2022, Loyalton, 5/14
  • Downieville Yard Sales all around town, 5/28
  • Two bike events on 6/4: Tour de Manure, Sierraville, and the Lost and Found Gravel Festival, Portola
  • High Sierra Music Festival, Quincy, 6/30-7/3
  • Fourth of July Parade, Loyalton, 7/4
  • Great American Craft Fair (7/16-7/17) and Professional Artisan & Crafts Fair (8/20-8/21), Graeagle
  • Downieville Mountain Brewfest 2022, 7/23
  • Sierra City Big City Rod Run, 9/10-9/10

And don’t forget the Plumas Sierra County Fair in Quincy, July 28-31—along with two spring Popsapalooza jazz and brass `concerts at the fairgrounds May 13 and June 11: http://www.plumas-sierracountyfair.net

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