County-owned festival, child abuse and farmers’ market highlight meeting

Is Plumas County going into the festival business? That topic and others were before the Plumas County Board of Supervisors just last week.

The board of supervisors meeting covered new music festivals, this summer’s Quincy Farmers Market, child abuse, drug needles, toxic chemicals and mad cows. The meeting occurred March 4.

New county festival

John Steffanic, Plumas-Sierra County Fair and Event Center manager, asked the board if it wanted him to pursue the initiation of another local music festival managed and owned by the county as a revenue-raiser for the county.

This year, the Joshua Festival, which in past years has used the fairgrounds over the Labor Day weekend, has decided to take a hiatus.

Steffanic pointed out that this gives the county an opportunity to put on a festival of its own, where the county receives the profits.

Steffanic was proposing an Americana-type festival featuring traditional country music and celebrating rural life. Steffanic was open, he said, to other themes as well.

According to Steffanic, the Americana theme might include early western music, cowboy yodeling, poetry reading, storytelling, square dancing, quilt shows, gold panning and Native-American displays.

The theme developed for the festival would depend on how the county wants to “brand” Plumas County and what ages and groups of people it wanted to attract, Steffanic said.

Steffanic told the board the festival would probably cost $40,000 to put on, with half of that money spent on advertising.

He said that, as is usual for new festivals, the festival would probably lose money the first year and perhaps the second. However, the festival might eventually make $100,000-$150,000 per year in revenues for the county.

Plumas County could own the festival, keeping all the profits or losses, or could let private investors share the risk.

Steffanic stressed that he wants the festival to be a large event, like the High Sierra Music Festival, drawing visitors from throughout the West Coast, with one or two well-known performers to draw people in.

Steffanic emphasized, “If we don’t do it right, there is no reason to do it at all.”

The High Sierra Music Festival, which takes place this year on June 29 through July 2, is privately owned.

Quincy Farmers Market

The Quincy Farmers Market will take place at Dame Shirley Plaza again this year. The market will be held on Thursdays, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., June 15 through Sept. 7.

Dony Sawchuk, director of county facility services, remarked that the county spent $2,800 for improvements to the park before last season’s farmers market.

Seasonal costs for the county ran $1,400, primarily for rental of portable toilets and maintenance staff. He noted, however, that the toilets are used by tourists throughout the summer.

Volunteers donate hundreds of hours to make the market happen.

The nonprofit farmers market agreed to pay $500 this year to help cover some of the county’s expenses. In return, the supervisors decided to waive the $1,000 damage deposit charged last summer.

The market draws 18 to 25 vendors, some coming up from the Central Valley, each paying a $15 fee for a space.

To volunteer, become a vendor, play music or become a sponsor, the Quincy Farmers Market can be reached at 487-4386 or manager.qcfm@gmail.com.

Belden Resort festivals

The first of two festivals to be held at the Belden Town Resort in Belden went before the board for a public hearing.

The Emission Music Festival, featuring “West Coast Bass Culture,” will take place May 19 through May 21.

The “Priceless” electronic music festival will take place at Belden on June 30 through July 3. It overlaps the High Sierra Festival’s schedule making the Belden event an additional draw or a destination spot all on its own.

Other festivals will follow later in the summer.

Child abuse prevention

Social Services Director, Elliott Smart asked the board to proclaim April, “Child Abuse Prevention Month,” which the board did.

Smart told the board that the county currently has 85 abused children who have gone through the court system. These children are now living with relatives, in group homes or are living with their parents under court supervision.

Smart concluded, “Eighty-five abused kids is just too many, it’s just too many.”

Board Chair Lori Simpson agreed. She thanked Smart, the social workers and the courts for the important work they do. “This is very heartbreaking and sad work,” said Simpson.

Drugs and sharps

The city and county of San Francisco are donating six kiosks for people to dispose of unneeded opioid prescriptions, illegal drugs and injection needles.

Plumas County will be getting these kiosks free, but will pay for shipping.

The kiosks will be placed in communities throughout the county to help control the spread of communicable diseases associated with illegal opioid drug injection.

The county currently has no facilities for the public to drop off their unneeded drugs or needles. Public health has been looking to fill this need.

Lassen National Forest

Dave Hayes, forest supervisor for the Lassen National Forest, and Kathleen Nelson, district ranger for the Almanor District of the forest, brought the board up-to-date on the work the Forest Service will be doing on portions of the forest within Plumas and adjacent counties.

A lot of work will be going on in the High Lakes region located above the Feather River Canyon, rerouting trails out of riparian areas and eliminating hazard trees around campgrounds.

The board was particularly interested in hearing about the effects of large-scale cannabis cultivation and the herd of feral cattle living within the Ishi Wilderness.

Hayes reported that a cannabis operation near Highway 52 was 1 mile wide by 3 miles long. The site contained significant use of chemicals that are highly toxic and are not even legal in this country, according to Hayes.

The Forest Service has to ascertain the danger to workers before crews can be sent in to clean up the mess.

Nelson reported that a herd of feral cattle has lived within the Ishi Wilderness for many decades.

The herd originally numbered 700 animals and over time, that number was reduced, but the agency got tired of funding the removal of the cattle. The herd has since rebounded to 200 head.

The herd has been on its own and self-reproducing for so many years that the cattle have gone wild and can be aggressive to people.

Nelson is retiring from the Forest Service. Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said she has worked with both Lassen and Plumas National Forests and she wanted to commend Nelson “for the work she has done in the Almanor Basin and what a pleasure Lassen National Forest is to work with.”