Future uncertain for Solar Cook-Off

Local resident Suzanne Stirling checks the angle of the sun for optimum cooking temperature. She is among more than 30 people from all over the region who share an international variety of solar-cooked foods at the Solar Cook-Off each year. Some have been attending the event since its inception; others bring homemade cookers and compare designs and recipes.
Alicia Knadler

  Will there be a Solar Cook-Off this July in Taylorsville?

  Rumors of the end of this popular summertime festival produced by Blackhawk Solar for almost three decades just might be greatly exaggerated.

  Blackhawk owner Bill Rockett, in a telephone interview Wednesday, Jan. 23, said he is not getting any younger and has been considering a change.

  He said he is actually considering several different options, such as downsizing or even selling.

  It’s a very hard decision to make, he said, and he needs some time to think it through.

  The event outgrew the Taylorsville Rodeo Grounds, back in the days before the new grandstands were installed.

  And the Taylorsville Campground across the street became the new venue for the ever-bigger event.

  “It’s a huge volunteer effort at a busy time,” Plumas Arts Executive Director Roxanne Valladao said.

  And many of those volunteers are aging or infirm, or have passed away.

  Plumas Arts has partnered with Rockett for the past few years, and he offered to let them take over the event.

  “We just don’t have the capacity to take it on,” Valladao said, recalling its long history as a Blackhawk Solar event.

  “Is it important to the community?” she asked. “Is it being supported by the local community?”

  Fees to cover production, including rental of a portion of the campground, portable toilet rentals, artist fees and other expenses were all paid by Rockett.

  Valladao mentioned concern about the increased number of people who weren’t paying admission, or even their own camping fees.

  “We have been helping support it and always believed it was an important event for Taylorsville,” she said.

  Other summer events, like the High Sierra Music Festival, have impacted it, at least in Valladao’s personal observations. But there have been no real studies about that, she added.

  So while there is no answer at the moment about whether or not there will be a Solar Cook-Off in July, Rockett said he should be able to come to a decision in March.

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