The Sierra Valley Art & Ag Trail brings together the artistic and agricultural communities of Plumas and Sierra counties, and together they are inviting the public to spend an awesome autumn day enjoying the history, culture and artistry of a local treasure — Sierra Valley. The event takes place Saturday, Sept. 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sierra Valley is a stunning alpine valley the size of Lake Tahoe nestled between the Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Range and the Great Basin.
The valley is home to many historic cattle ranches, beautiful old dairy barns, market farms and talented artisans of widely varied media.
Event coordinators invite attendees to travel the Sierra Valley Art & Ag Trail and enjoy views of Sierra Valley barn quilts, take the opportunity to visit market farms, old schoolhouses, working ranches and a pumpkin patch, and to sample the wares of artists in every medium — wood, paint, glass, ceramic, metal, leather, fiber and more.
The event offers a window into the past, when Sierra Valley was home to a large number of family-run dairies that supplied cream and butter to the Comstock Lode miners in Virginia City and places beyond.
The public will have a rare opportunity to visit privately owned, century-old dairy barns, many built with hand-hewn timbers and wooden pegs, still serving today’s working ranches.
Inside and around the barns, farms and other historic sites, talented local artists will be showing and selling their wares. Visitors will be offered opportunities to tour the sites and learn about the history and current uses and operations. The Sierra Valley Art & Ag Trail also offers children’s activities, artist demonstrations, education about the sources of our food and a prize drawing, featuring a keepsake passport for collecting stamps of local cattle brand insignia, artists’ marks and more along the trail.
The event is a cooperative venture of the Plumas-Sierra Community Food Council, Sierra County Arts Council, UC Cooperative Extension, many sponsors and funders, and individual artists and family-owned farms and ranches.
Those planning to attend should plan on beginning the day at one of three “Trailhead” information centers positioned at convenient entry points into Sierra Valley: Sierra Valley Grange Hall in Vinton, Sierra Valley Farms in Beckwourth and the historic Sierraville School in Sierraville.
Trailheads, which will open at 9:30 a.m., will host local artists and will provide an opportunity for visitors to plan the rest of their route with a knowledgeable volunteer, to pick up a paper map and purchase a passport or souvenir.
This year, both the Plumas-Sierra Cattlemen’s Association and the Plumas-Sierra Cattlewomen will be cooking up a delicious meal to end the day, with the Grange serving up a fantastic bar.
“One bit of feedback we received after last year’s event was that people traveling parts of the Trail were hungry,” said organizer Kristi Jamason. “This year we have added a number of food options for lunch and snacks along the way.”
Chef Sean Conry, formerly executive chef of Longboards for 16 years, will be cooking up lunch fair with local culinary arts students from Portola High School and his Feather River College classes at the Sierra Valley Farms event site in Beckwourth.
Using local ingredients, including heritage pork from Sage Eggs & Ham in Beckwourth, Conry and PHS students will be preparing lunch fare, including pulled pork sandwiches and Thai pork meatballs, as well as vegetarian salad, soup and desserts created by the FRC pastry class.
Harvey Farms and Forestry in Calpine, which sells its lamb at farmers markets throughout the region, will be serving its family-recipe Basque chorizo on baguettes. “My mother’s family used pork,” said Anna Harvey, “but we substitute lamb, because that’s what we raise. All the spices are the same, but it does taste a little different.”
The newly opened Goodwin’s General Store in Chilcoot will have rotisserie chicken with a choice from a variety of sides. Sierra Valley Grange will be selling homemade slices of apple pie and will also have grab-n-go bag lunches for those who don’t want to slow down to eat.
Three 4H clubs will be making snow cones at the Roberti Ranch. Local restaurants will be offering specials for folks traveling the Trail such as a hotdog, fries and drink special at Rhonda’s Lil Frosty and two special hot sandwiches at the Golden West, both in Loyalton; and homemade sausage and cheesy polenta, a family special from Cassandra Martinetti, owner of Fork ‘n Horn in Sierraville.
“There should be something for everyone,” said Jamason.
The event continues into the evening at the Sierra Valley Grange Hall in Vinton, featuring a prize drawing at 4:30 p.m., with the vast majority of the prizes being works contributed by participating artists. Dinner follows, accompanied by a live auction of old ranch relics and other treasures conducted by rancher/comedian/auctioneer Rick Roberti.
“It’s a great place to start your Christmas shopping,” said Jamason with a chuckle. “Or to stock your larder for the winter with local meat, to get your jack-o-lantern pumpkin or to just purchase some local art because you love it.”
More information is available by contacting organizer Kristi Jamason by email at [email protected] or by phone at 428-5016. More information, as well as dinner and drawing tickets, and passport pre-sales are available on sierravalleyartagtrail.org.