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Happy, smiling faces greet all attendees at the gates of the Hoedown, with wristbands and Popsicle sticks in hand. From left, Sarah Rosenthal, Samantha Gottloeb, Abigail Kent and Nathan Rolshoven.

Hundreds play at the Hoedown

Hand-painted signs direct attendees on the short hike from the gates to the ski bowl, encouraging a theme of low-impact fun in nature.

The Lost Sierra Hoedown hit the Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl the weekend of Sept. 21 through 24, sold out with over 500 in attendance spread out in colorful tents amidst the trees, wrapped up in layers to combat the cold snap that occurred over the weekend.

The event is in its fifth year, and has only grown in popularity since its inception. Event organizer Azariah Reynolds dreamed up the Hoedown after a childhood of winters spent at the Ski Bowl with his mother, who worked the ski lift and did a little bit of everything at the bowl, while he roamed the snowy mountains.

“I’m really happy with this event,” Reynolds commented. “It started out as an idea that I shared with my friend Drew Fischer when I brought him up to visit the Ski Bowl. I was kind of joking about the idea, but Drew thought it out and wanted to turn it into a fundraiser for the ski hill, and really ran with it. That’s basically how this all started.”

Reynolds explained what he loves most about the event, “First, the Hoedown really seems to bring people together to share in the beauty and history of the area. Second, this event has really created a musical family — these bands have become friends, and everyone enjoys coming to not only play sets, but also to just enjoy playing with other bands. It has created this nice feeling of community.”

Reynolds was enthusiastic about the lineup this year, voicing praise for everyone that played, from Jordan Smart to Willy Watson. “It was amazing,” Reynolds said. “Each band just seemed to build, one on top of the other, creating amazing performances.”

Music kicked off on Sept. 21, with all comers greeted at the gates by volunteers who had wooden Popsicle sticks to redeem for metal pint cups, wristbands and giant, welcoming smiles. “We love coming to the Hoedown,” said one gatekeeper, Sarah Rosenthal of Lake Tahoe.

There are usually 150 to 200 members of staff and volunteers at each Hoedown, bringing the total attendance to around 800.

Parking, a slight challenge with the narrow mountain road leading to the Ski Bowl, went off without a hitch, although many attendees wound up with quite the hike as the trail of parked vehicles extended miles down the road.

Many volunteers were returning for their second and third years. Attendees also keep coming back, with many noting that they loved the outdoor, family-friendly setting for the event and would be back for more in 2018.

The event featured a musical lineup that included bands such as the Risky Biscuits, Willy Tea Taylor, The Riverside and more.

Aside from the music, many enjoyed the live theatre in the lodge, with scores of kids whooping and cheering around the fire pit with standing room only.

The Riverside takes the stage at the Lodge, returning to the Lost Sierra Hoedown for the second year with a new album full of tunes that got toes tapping at the Historic Johnsville Ski Bowl. Photos by Lauren Westmoreland

“We’re really lucky to have the amazing Kate Ruttenburg of Chico writing and producing original skits each year,” Reynolds said. “Live theatre was the main form of entertainment in the past and we decided that it fit well with the historical theme of the event, because it’s a hoedown! The skits are kind of historical satire, and Kate custom-writes the songs and skits each year. It’s amazing.”

Attendees tried out yoga classes in the tent with Shawnee Wood, who has been the yoga instructor-in-chief at the Hoedown since the beginning, while many more hiked and explored around the bowl, and some elected to stay near the fire pit in the Lodge and partake of hot food sold on site by the Plumas Ski Club and a pint of cool beer.

“We don’t sell beer to anyone without the reusable cup,” Reynolds explained. “That was one of the first things we had to decide — how to reduce impact with this event. In the first year, we had the idea to just remove the option of creating trash. You know, some people get caught up dancing or what have you, and they’ll forget their plastic cup or water bottle and it’ll just end up on the ground. So we decided not to offer plastic at all, and the reusable cups have been well worth the investment. At the end of the event, things are nearly trash-free.”

Sierra Watch sponsored this year’s reusable metal pint cups at the Hoedown and Sierra Nevada served as official beer sponsor, with 100 percent of beer sale proceeds going to the Plumas Ski Club. “I have so much respect for the Sierra Watch,” Reynolds added. “We are so grateful for their support and sponsorship of cups this year.”

Plumas Eureka, Quincy and Graeagle fire departments all joined to take shifts at this year’s Hoedown as emergency medical services, as they do each year.

“It has been chilly this year,” laughed Bill Robinson of Plumas Eureka Fire when asked how attendees were enjoying the sudden cold snap. “On Saturday morning, people who had left any containers of water outside their tents were dumping out ice!”

Robinson also noted that any injuries or issues during the event had been minor, with mainly band-aids being put to use.

“We’re so lucky to have the EMS services from these groups,” Reynolds said enthusiastically. “They’re out here every year, and deserve major thanks.”

Attendees find seats in front of the stage to kick back, sip a brew or two, and enjoy the music.

YeahYeah!PonyPrince sold hand painted linoleum block-print clothing at the event, as they have since the beginning of the Hoedown, and this year featured historical female champion longboard skier Lotti Joy on shirts, sweaters and other swag.

Other friends and sponsors of the event include Nakoma Golf Resort, which provided catering and made hotel rooms available to musical artists that needed them, and Reynolds noted his extreme gratitude to Dan Gallagher of Nakoma for the generous donation of a generator for use at the event, as well as past aid with outdoor heating on cold nights.

101.5 Truckee Tahoe Radio also participates in event preparation, donating advertising time on the radio, as well as a personal donation from J.D. Hoff of a roll of carpet for use at the Hoedown.

InstaShirt.com of Chico donated staff T-shirts, The Brewing Lair of the Lost Sierra joined in with donations of beer to the Plumas Ski Club and the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship attended as friends of the organization.

The event was held in association with the Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl, the Plumas-Eureka State Park Association, The Plumas Ski Club and Sierra Nevada College.

Organizers of the event will be selling the last of the 2017 Hoedown merchandise online at lostsierrahoedown.com during the month of October. Here’s to another successful event, with the 2018 Hoedown already in the works.

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