| TheUnion.com

Solstice Festival returns to Tahoe City

Long standing local events are finally scheduled to return to Tahoe City this summer, signaling a return to “normal” for visitors and locals alike. The Tahoe City Downtown Association announced the 15th Annual Tahoe City Solstice Festival, an event that celebrates the start of the summer season at Lake Tahoe, will return this year. Featuring a myriad of small group activities, events and promotions held at businesses throughout the town, the festival will take place June 12-20.

“During a typical year, Tahoe City bustles with visitors who come for our large-scale events,” said Kylee Bigelow, executive director of the Tahoe City Downtown Association. “This will be the first in-person event series since September 2019, and we know visitors and locals are excited to get out and enjoy all that Tahoe City has to offer.”

New this year, as part of the Solstice Festival celebration, the Tahoe City Golf Course will host the inaugural Swing into Summer Golf Classic on June 16. A scramble-style event, golfers should expect quirky challenges to contribute to the fun. Open to all skill levels, participants are encouraged to sign their team up for a day on the greens. Tee times will begin every 10 minutes starting at 9 a.m., with golfers asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to their tee time. Presented by the Tahoe City Public Utility District, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and Placer County, this nine hole tournament will happen rain or shine, with prizes awarded for first, second and third place teams. All participants will receive a goodie bag with golf swag and essentials for their day on the golf course. A fundraiser for the Tahoe City Downtown Association, greens fees are $240 per team and include two golf cart rentals per team. Tickets available here https://visittahoecity.org/swing-into-summer-golf-classic/

Presented by sponsors including Bluescape, Bently Heritage Estate Distillery, Tahoe City Marina, North Lake Tahoe Resort Association and Placer County.

Scheduled events during Tahoe City’s Solstice Festival include:

  • Cartoons, Cereal & Mimosas at the Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema – June 12 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Summer Solstice Sunset Kayak Tour with Tahoe City Kayak- June 12 and June 13 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Slushee & Selfie at Side Bar at Za’s Lakefront – Daily June 12-20 from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Tahoe City Historic Walking Tour – June 14 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 am.
  • Big Views Tiny Paintings, Plein Air Workshop- June 14 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tahoe City Waterfront Tour – June 15 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Cornhole & Happy Hour at West Shore Market – June 16 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Tahoe City Farmers’ Market at Commons Beach – June 17 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • 14th Annual Tahoe City Solstice Stroll Classic Car Show – June 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Celebrate Solstice at Muse – June 17 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Live music with Peter Joseph Burtt and The King Tide at Moe’s Original BBQ – June 18 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • North Tahoe Arts Summer Solstice Open House – June 19 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Pioneer Cocktail Club Summer Block Party – June 19 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Lakefront Stargazing Tours – June 19 from 9 p.m to 10:30 p.m.
  • Summer Solstice Sail with Tahoe Sailing Charters – June 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Other events are being added to the schedule by some of Tahoe City’s popular businesses and local non-profits. The full calendar of events will be updated online at https://visittahoecity.org/summer-solstice/, with sales for ticketed events coming soon.

Long standing local events are finally scheduled to return to Tahoe City this summer, signaling a return to “normal” for visitors and locals alike.
Courtesy of Tahoe City Downtown Association
The Tahoe City Downtown Association announced the 15th Annual Tahoe City Solstice Festival, an event that celebrates the start of the summer season at Lake Tahoe, will return this year.
Courtesy of Tahoe City Downtown Association
“During a typical year, Tahoe City bustles with visitors who come for our large-scale events,” said Kylee Bigelow, executive director of the Tahoe City Downtown Association. “This will be the first in-person event series since September 2019.”
Courtesy of Tahoe City Downtown Association


Ring in the New Year with The Gold Souls

Provided photo
A Funktastic New Year’s Eve featuring The Gold Souls will be broadcast from The Center for the Arts on Dec. 31.

WHO: The Gold Souls

WHAT: A Funktastic New Years Eve from The Center for the Arts

WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 31 at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Online broadcast

ADMISSION: Free public broadcast, donations welcome

MORE INFO: Visit thecenterforthearts.org or call 530-274-8384

The Gold Souls are bringing the driving grooves of funk, the rich textures of soul, and the compelling storytelling of the blues to you, at home, with a special New Year’s Eve broadcast from The Center.

Visit thecenterforthearts.org to RSVP for free. Tune in on Thursday, Dec. 31, at 7 p.m. or watch the replay whenever you’re ready to bring a little funk to your New Year.

This show was pre-recorded before the current stay-at-home order went into effect, and it will be the last free broadcast in the From The Center series. The series began in June when The Center leaped into the world of livestreaming to provide gigs for artists and crews, and musical experiences for fans and members at a time when live audiences were not possible. While it is still unknown when audiences will be able to return to the auditorium, The Center continues to develop more ways for us to stay connected through the arts.

Starting in 2021, From The Center shows will be ticketed. The Center for the Arts encourages you to become a member for free or discounted access to future livestreams and replays.

The Gold Souls burst on the Sacramento music scene in early 2017 and are swiftly becoming one of the most promising new talents in the area. Led by the dynamic Juniper Waller, the group is made up of young talent hailing from the Bay and Sacramento areas. With Darius Upshaw on guitar, Alex Severson on the keys, Billy D. Thompson on the drums, and Jace Dorn on bass, each member has a hand in writing and song composition, making The Gold Souls a truly collaborative effort.

They released their self-titled five song EP in May of 2017 and toured down the California coast soon after in support of the fresh blues, soul-funk EP. Their next single, “Nobody,” was released in late 2017 and was featured on Apple Music Blues’ Hot Tracks list. They released their full length album, “Good to Feel,” in June of 2018, an album that stuck to their core oath to never sacrifice the groove. Their next single, “True Blue,” was produced/engineered by multi-Grammy winner Timothy Bloom (Smokey Robinson) and was released in February of 2019. This past April, the band went on tour through Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and New Orleans. Their latest single, “Strongman,” was released this past summer (2019), a single that promotes a story of female-empowerment through rich soul textures and a vintage-inspired sound. The release was accompanied by a visually stunning lyric video in October of this year. After their debut at the Joshua Tree Music Festival, The Gold Souls wrapped 2019 with a NYE show with their fans at The Palm Playhouse.

This New Year’s Eve, you can join The Gold Souls and The Center for the Arts for a Funktastic New Year’s Eve. This is a free public broadcast that will stream on YouTube and Facebook on Thursday, Dec. 31, at 7 p.m. Donations are appreciated to help compensate the artists and the crews working hard behind the scenes to bring art and music into your home during this challenging time. Visit thecenterforthearts.org to RSVP and for more information.

Source: The Center for the Arts

Penn Valley Rodeo Parade canceled

The 2019 Penn Valley Rodeo Parade has been canceled due to “very inclement weather conditions,” according to a Facebook post by the Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“This is not a decision that was easily arrived at, but we must first and foremost always consider public safety concerns for participants, support staff, fans, and of course our equestrian entries,” the post stated.

The rodeo itself is planned to go on as scheduled.

Roost & Grass Valley Brewing Company first beer pairing a resounding success

Grass Valley Brewing Company and Roost held their first of what the lucky attendees hope will be many food and beer pairing events on Friday, January 18, at their joint location in downtown Grass Valley.  Similar to wine pairing dinners, each of the seven courses created by Sean Cox, chef and owner of Roost as well as Jernigans Tap House and Grill, along with chefs Jesse Henshaw and Kevin Soares.  All courses were perfectly paired with a beer that had been selected by GVBC Brewmaster Mike Sutherland to enhance the flavors of each culinary creation.  The result was a fine dining experience that was at the same time elegant and relaxed.

The first course consisted of three Japanese-themed canapé bites; a shrimp marinated in Ponzu, which is a Japanese sauce with a soy and citrus base; an oyster topped with Kosho, which is a citrusy Japanese condiment that is fermented; and a pickled cucumber salad.  The beer that Sutherland paired with the Asian fusion course was a Firkin of their signature Haze Lifter, but with Meyer lemon added after the brewing process.  Sutherland described the beer as “rainy,” but rather than a winter storm, this beer had notes of sunshine, as well, and made the brew reminiscent of a warm spring day filled with scattered showers and rainbows.

The second course was a more hearty beer cheese soup, which was made with Sierra Sunrise, the beer that was also paired with the course, as well as Chällerhocker cheese, cream, and herbs.  The soup was both hearty and delicate, and the slightly bitter hoppiness of the Sierra Sunrise pairing enhanced its flavor marvelously.

The frisee salad that followed the soup was a work of art.  The crisp frisee was dotted with bright slices of watermelon relish, snap peas, and brined grapefruit that set off the flavor of the light dressing of Shiso crème fraîche and the Grateful Haze beer that accompanied it.

Next came a scallop ceviche that was topped with Kimchi and served tostada-style on a crisp masa round.  The delicate scallops were perfectly seasoned and the Kimchi added a slight heat to the dish, which was appropriately paired with the Brunswick Blonde, one of GVBC’s most popular beers both in house and around town.

The fifth course was Neua Kem, a Thai dish of salted dried beef sirloin over hearty greens with fish sauce, cucumber, cilantro, tamarind, chili, and chicory.  The Lost Mine Lager beer that was served with this course enhanced the tender dried beef as well as the uniquely dressed greens.

The main course of the evening was something truly special.  Duck braised in a porter maple sauce and sprinkled with fresh pomegranate seeds that popped like jewels both on the plate and in the mouth.  The duck was served with yams, perfectly prepared Brussels sprouts, and Takana, a Japanese dish of fermented greens.  This plate of gourmet marvel was paired with a porter that was anything but ordinary.  Dark and delicate, the beer added even more depth to the star dish of the meal; that is, until dessert.

The grand finale was the exquisite, creative dessert dreamed up by local pastry maker Rosie Lynch.  Called “bee sting cake,” this honey flavored cake was moist and lightly sweetened with honey, filled with a silky vanilla cream and topped with slivered honeyed almonds.  The slightly bitter, slightly sweet Brut Amber that Sutherland chose to accompany the final dish took an already exquisite dessert to the next level.

Not only was the food superb and the beer delicious, the service was impeccably executed and the flow of the meal was pure perfection.  Be on the lookout for the next GVBC/Roost pairing and get your tickets early.  These culinary events are sure to be a quick sell out every time.

For information about upcoming events, visit www.gvbrew.com.

Binge the Fringe: Nugget Fringe Theater Festival provides two weekends of experimental fun

The Nugget Fringe Theater Festival returns to Grass Valley next week, Jan. 17 to 20, and again, Jan. 24 to 27.

This year the festival features 80 performances of nearly 30 original works, covering a variety of topics from a “rollicking Volkswagen ride through 1970s San Francisco underground” to a one-way boat ride on the “HMS Euthanasia,” to the world premiere of a stand-up comedians’ national tour, to audience driven improvisational burlesque, storytelling, drama, and just about everything in between. When it comes to what to expect from the Nugget Fringe Festival, the sky really is the limit.

According to Quest Theater Works co-founder Scott Ewing, who produces the Nugget Festival, the first fringe festival took place in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland when theatre leaders decided to hold an international theater festival and invited professional companies from around the world to participate. This caused a bit of an uprising of locals who decided to hold a festival of their own on the “fringe” of that jubilee, and let anyone who wanted to be involved perform.

“There was no ‘gatekeeper,’ which allowed artists to bring original works with low barriers to perform,” Ewing said. “Literally. You paid your entry fees to do whatever art you wanted, there was no one to say yes or no to you and you reaped the rewards.”

Today, that philosophy is brought to life all over the world, in the form of “fringe festivals.”

After Quest brought the European premiere of “Gidion’s Knot” to Edinburgh’s Festival (which now runs over 25 days with more than 3,500 different shows) in 2014, they decided to produce their own fringe festival for Northern California audiences.

“We thought we could create a time when the public could take a low-cost risk on art that was not the usual fare,” Ewing explained. “It’s all from the edges which is where innovation happens.

“We bring artists from all over the world to our little town. In four years, we became the largest rural fringe festival in North America. It may sound funny, but it is also saying a lot because there about 50 fringe festivals in North America”.

While Ewing is careful not to recommend specific performances, he said there are several he is excited about.

The first is a show Ewing wrote called “Red Bar,” a story about a group of serial killers on the loose who meet at a bar socially to find classes and mechanisms to help them stop – or support, if they want to continue.

“It does not condone serial killing by any means,” he said, “but is a piece that does ask the question, ‘Where lie the limits of your compassion?’ So it is a very thought provoking, very in your face piece of theater.”

One artist is using the Nugget Fringe Festival to kick off what will be a national tour. “Clownfish” is written by Nevada County native Trevor Wade who returned home after five years performing improvisational theatre and comedy in New York.

“I started writing this piece ten years ago, when I began to understand that I didn’t exactly fit in any of the boxes the ‘nice people’ had set down for me,” Wade said. “Never manly enough to feel like a man but too boyish to be a proper girl, twirling in a hormonal maelstrom yet hopelessly romantic, I was, to say the least, confused.

“So in a fit of frustration I started writing a comedy show. It’s funny, it tugs a heartstring, it’s glam as heck and it rhymes.”

Following the festival, Wade will be performing the show across America.

“I’m proud of this show,” he said. “If you’ve ever felt like you didn’t fit in the boxes, if your option was not listed on the drop-down menu, if you want to learn more about this national conversation we’re having about gender, if you know what all the letters in LGBTQIA stand for, if you had no idea we were up to that many letters, if you’re open to a new point of view, if you want to trick a bigot, if you’re looking for a unicorn, come see this show. I promise not to disappoint you.”

Other performances not to be missed include Sarah Kennedy’s return of “ Vagina Odyssey” which she premiered at last year’s Nugget Fringe Festival and then took to the Solo Festival in New York.

“Solo performers from all over the world submit or are contacted,” explained Ewing of the New York festival. “You get one night, and if you sell out, you get a second night. It’s very difficult to get an audience because there are so many solo performers from around the world.”

After performing “An Evening with Death, Herself” at the first Nugget Fringe Festival, Douglas Truth also was accepted at the Solo Festival in New York. He returns to Nugget with a new show, “2024: My 5-year plan and what it failed” which promises to be entertaining.

This year the Nugget Festival takes place in five different venues and a recreational vehicle. Ewing says the RV holds up to six audience members and will serve as the setting for “Séance with Strangely” and “Dandelion: Garden of Musical Delights.”

Ewing added, “Fringe is a lot of fun. It is great for audiences and artists alike. You can see a real live person who, chances are, wrote the material and are viscerally invested in presenting it to you. We get people seeing things that challenge them, seeing things that make them laugh and give opportunity to artists that can be life changing. We encourage people to binge the fringe.”

Fall Magic Show scheduled at North Star House in Grass Valley

The Nevada County Magicians Guild returns to the North Star House for a Fall Magic Show, according to a release.

The Magic Guild has held eight April Fools Shows at the Historic North Star House, shows which benefit the North Star Historic Conservancy. At 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, the group of magicians is again scheduled to perform in three rooms of the house.

This show provides three different magic venues for the audience: Close-up magic in the dining room, old-style parlor magic in a small parlor, and stand-up magic in the large living room. During 90 minutes, guests will rotate through each venue, enjoying up to 10 different performers. The age of the performers range from 7 to 70 (or older). Guests arriving early will enjoy strolling magicians, performing from about 6:30 p.m. until show time.

The Nevada County Magicians Guild has been meeting once per month for nearly 30 years. The magicians perform for the public often, including annual shows at the North Star House, at Cornish Christmas and various local fundraisers. All aspiring magicians are welcome to attend meetings.

Tickets for Friday and Saturday’s shows are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. The seating is limited at only 80 guests per evening. Pre-show tickets are available at Mountain Pastimes in Nevada City. The North Star House is located at 12075 Auburn Road, Grass Valley.

For more information, to go https://thenorthstarhouse.org/magic-show/ and www.nevadacountymagiciansguild.org/events.

Helping heal Mother Earth — Wild & Scenic Film Festival back in Nevada City, Grass Valley Jan. 11-15 (VIDEO)

It’s become more apparent in recent months that people aren’t content with sitting around and waiting for things to happen.

Our current political and sociological climate finds audiences demanding a more meaningful cinematic experience — and that’s where the Wild & Scenic Film Festival comes in.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is operated by South Yuba River Citizens League, a group dedicated to protecting and restoring the rivers of our home watershed in its entirety.

The annual film festival — which began in 2003 — is devoted to educating the public on local and worldwide environmental concerns, with topics ranging from the organic food movement to the global carbon cycle.

The popular festival will run starting today and continuing through Monday, Jan, 15.

“One thing that’s really incredible is the founding story of Wild and Scenic; what’s most special [is] its founding roots,” said festival director Melinda Booth. “SYRCL knew there was a lot more work to be done to keep the river safe and they needed funding so they created Wild and Scenic. We bring some really inspiring films that focus on environmental issues and adventure topics. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the environmental successes in our community, and bring people together over a common interest.”

Full of activities

The festival will be taking place at a number of venues throughout Nevada City and Grass Valley, including The Center for the Arts and Miners Foundry.

The hub of festival activities, Wild & Scenic headquarters will be located at the Reiki Kitchen on Commercial Street in Nevada City.

Booth said that throughout the years of the festival’s operation, she’s seen many examples of the power of the films and their messages.

“There’s a couple in town, and she was doing the film fest even before he was and every year she’d go home and say ‘We’re going to commit to …’ whatever it was,” said Booth. “One year it was bringing their own shopping bags, but every year she’d say, ‘I’m going to Wild & Scenic — and her husband was like ‘Oh what’s changing next?’ It’s fun to hear the little stories.”

For Booth, one of the more difficult aspects of the festival is in the initial selection process. Following an open call for submissions, a dedicated staff screens each and every entry — in excess of 500 films — in consideration for inclusion in the festival.

“It’s important for the films to be screened by at least three people — [each sees] something different, and has a different perspective,” said Booth. “It’s a little heart wrenching. Every time I watch a film I want it to be the best film I’ve ever seen; they don’t always pan out that way.”

In addition to the extensive lineup of films Wild & Scenic maintains a schedule that is focused on education and awareness.

“We’re a film festival at our core but we are so much more,” said Booth.

Something for everyone

Booth is quick to point out that the festival offers an array of programs for people of all ages.

For example, Saturday morning will find Grass Valley’s Del Oro theatre hosting Saturday Morning Kid Films featuring several age-appropriate shorts such as “Wild Inheritance” and “Norma’s Story.”

Many workshops are on the docket as well, with Booth mentioning that Saturday’s Youth v Gov: An Environmentalist Justice Workshop is of particular significance. A number of youths who have filed a constitutional climate change lawsuit against the US Federal Government will be on hand to share their story and offer advice on how youth of all ages can assert their rights and use their voices for the greater good.

South Yuba River Citizens League also operates their own Film Festival on tour, bringing their message to over 165 cities and reaching over 40,000 people along the way.

When asked what her favorite part of the festival is, Booth needn’t think long. “For me it’s Friday, late afternoon when folks start rolling into town and there’s all these people you’ve never seen before in your whole life,” she said. “[The town is] palpable with energy. Just seeing it come to life and people enjoying it gives me the most satisfaction.”

With all of the fun and excitement, the mission behind the festival remains at the forefront of everyone’s mind: to inspire people to help heal Mother Earth.

“The more people who see the films, the more influence they will have,” Booth enthuses. “We want these films to be seen by as many people as can be.”

Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer for The Union and can be contacted at jenkrisnobles@gmail.com.

Redefining Prosperity: Film about Nevada City’s gold rushes to premiere at Wild & Scenic (VIDEO)

A documentary called “Redefining Prosperity: The Gold Rushes of Nevada City” premieres at next week’s 16th Wild & Scenic Film Festival.

A dictionary defines prosperity as “a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects.” A redefinition of prosperity puts synonyms such as affluence, opulence,and wealthy in the background behind such things as stewardship of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we grow and the community, kindness and beauty we nurture.

Director and writer John de Graaf has shown many of his 40-plus films at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Greg Davis, who’s collaborated on John’s projects for 25 years, says John “will take a subject and see a story in it that you haven’t considered.”

In “Redefining Prosperity, he juxtaposes the Gold Rush, as in bonanzas of actual gold starting in 1848, with a more metaphorical gold rush in the 1970s. John calls Michael Funk, for instance, one of “the hippiest hippies, but also a most successful businessman.”

Funk suggests he’s “no different than half the people in the movie; attracted to living off the land; although I was one of the only ones who had an actual job. I always resented that people thought the counterculture was lazy. I had a work ethic; been working since I was eleven.”

Funk never foresaw his scrambling approach to selling natural and organic foods turning into 10,000 employees and 33 distribution centers. Funk says, “Prosperity should be much broader than monetary. It’s about quality of life … the hippie spirit is being able to foster change. With me, it was definitely about changing the way people ate and farmed.”

The region and its people

From farmers to culture mongers to community organizers, Nevada City cultivated its dynamic, modern shape. Funk agrees with de Graaf that the Nevada City area is something of model that other small communities could learn from.

Asked what most pleased him about being the film’s cinematographer and editor, Greg Davis noted, “It’s a bit of a love story for the town. … I most enjoyed interacting with people who know the town. The people are so incredible.”

Davis expressed further appreciation: “Nevada City is one … cute looking town; it’s a sweet little community with a great downtown. One joy of being a photographer is that I don’t arrange and know what (we’re doing beforehand). With the editing, I help bring the voices together. This film came together seamlessly, the way John works, and the way the community is.”

SYRCL and the film festival

Melinda Booth, Executive Director of the South Yuba River Citizens League, and director of the film festival, calls John de Graaf a living legacy in the environmental film world.” Not unlike the commitment of so many filmmakers showcased at the film fest, Booth believes John is “using film to change the world.”

On how the Nevada City area as well as SYRCL and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival make the world better, Booth comments, “There’s the adage, think globally, act locally. SYRCL nails this. The Film Festival highlights this. … We bring people here, broaden perspectives. And the ‘On Tour’ program, raises funds for our work and also for the work in communities (where the tour plays).”

Speaking about locals, Melinda continues, “For (many), it’s their favorite time of year: the festival; the connection to the community; the energy buzz around town; the camaraderie and can do. For activists, new or seasoned, it’s rejuvenating. Environmentalism is hard. It’s a lot of trudging. (The festival helps you) feel larger than yourself.”

Processes develop

Asked if he did what he was trying to do with the film, de Graaf responds, “We did. … I’m not sure we knew we would go into the marijuana issue when we started, but that came in the process; stories come out in the process.”

Asked for something that surprised him in making the film, he said, “this young couple of musicians; it’s great to see young people who have that kind of following, who are using their music to improve things.”

John was referring to Ayla Nereo and “The Polish Ambassador,” David Sugalski. Nereo shared, “We are both aware of the gift and responsibility of having a platform. I hold myself to a pretty high standard.”

Ayla invokes a “shift in mindset” from “short-term thinking in culture and government; reprogramming to longer term goals and reprioritizing what’s valuable.”

Reflecting on everybody having personal choices to make, Nereo remarks, “It’s up to us, how everyone shows up.” About a daunting aspect of commitment, Ayla accounts for herself: “I hope I’m way farther and deeper into sustainability and community” 10, 20 years from now.

John de Graaf, in addition to premiering “Redefining Prosperity” at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, is conducting one of the workshops that are part of the goings-on. John put what he considers an exemplary region on film. Now, he’s nurturing a bigger but related project.

John likes to refer to the workshop and the project “And Beauty for All” by coupling that phrase with a Doug Tompkins quote: “If anything can save the world, I’d put my money on beauty.”

The people make the difference

The film’s producer Jennifer Ekstrom says of the “delightful community” at the core of this documentary: “The best part of being the details person is to get to know the people … who really put their energy in it for decades.” It seems appropriate to acknowledge those who spoke on camera in the film.

Malaika Bishop

Melinda Booth

Andy Cassano

Shelly Covert

Caleb Dardick

Charles Durrett

Kelly Fleming

Michael Funk

Juliet Gobert

Mikail Graham

Heidi Hall

Roger Hicks

Eli Ilano

Eileen Jorgensen

Paul Jorgensen

Robbie Lansburg

Wade Laughter

Izzy Martin

Scott McLean

Hank Meals

Kim Milligan

Ayla Nereo

Tova Rothert

Reinette Senum

Sierra Harvest Food-Love staff

Jordan Fisher Smith

Mike Snegg

Nina Snegg

Gary Snyder

David Sugalski

John Tecklin

David Vassar

Deborah Weistar

Tom Weistar

Jordan Fisher Smith, a longtime local and consulting producer, spoke the most on and off camera. John de Graaf praises him: “Jordan was so helpful, so incredibly knowledgeable, and such a good storyteller. Also, he’s passionate and cares.”

Add so many folks with unspoken moments on screen and all the folks thanked in the credits. For de Graaf, referring to getting this “labor of love” done, he says that he “owed this to Nevada City and the people who helped make it happen.”

Chuck Jaffee of Grass Valley likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at www.startlets.com.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival announces 135 environmental and adventure films to be featured Jan. 11-15, 2018

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival unveiled its full lineup of 135 environmental and activist films, including 10 world premieres, to be shown at its 16th annual event on Jan. 11-15, 2018.

The festival features activist workshops, music, art and opportunities to meet filmmakers and special guests at venues throughout historic Nevada City and Grass Valley.

Hosted and produced by South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), the Wild & Scenic Film Festival is the largest environmental film festival of its kind.

It brings together top filmmakers, celebrities, activists, and social innovators to inspire environmental awareness and action.

“Groundswell is the theme of this year’s Wild & Scenic Festival, and we aim to inspire a groundswell of movements all over the world that will create sustainable and resilient communities,” said Melinda Booth, festival director for the 2018 Wild & Scenic Film Festival. “Two of our featured films, Keepers of the Future and Redefining Prosperity, exemplify communities across the globe — and right here at home — coming together and activating from the ground up to ensure a bright future during challenging times.”

An abundance of films

The 135 films and 10 world premieres were selected by a committee that spent close to 1,000 hours reviewing nearly 500 films. Some of the marquee films presented at the 16th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival include:

Redefining Prosperity: The Gold Rushes of Nevada City

Directed by John de Graaf, an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has been broadcast nationally on PBS, “Redefining Prosperity” was shot in Nevada City and features nearly two dozen local residents.

It is the remarkable story of a beautiful California town and the outward-looking, creative people who call it home and have given birth to its new identity.

It is hopeful, dramatic and transcendent — a story that can be duplicated in other towns and cities, and thus inspire their citizens as well.

Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey

Fred Beckey, the original American “dirtbag” climber, made hundreds of record ascents (more than any other North American climber) before his death in October at the age of 94.

His stubborn, singular quest to conquer peaks meant a solitary life on the road, where he left a long trail of scorned climbing partners and lost lovers in his wake.

The life story of this rebel athlete who inspired generations of climbers to head for the mountains is told for the first time in this film.

Keepers of the Future

In this film, Salvadoran campesinos (peasant farmers) are shown restoring ecosystems and building resilient communities in the scorched earth of exile and war.

On the surface, the life of these campesinos may resemble the past — but their model may be the key to the future.

Valve Turners

On October 11, 2016, in solidarity with Standing Rock and in response to the world’s climate emergency, a team of activists took direct action by shutting off the five pipelines carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada into the United States.

Evolution of Organic

The past, present and future of organic agriculture are explored in this film, beginning with the 1960s counter cultural movement to get back to the land.

These days, there is a cultural transformation in the ways we grow and eat food, and people are taking back the food system. Nevada City residents Izzy Martin, Amigo Bob Cantisano and Michael Funk are all featured in this film.

More information about the festival and film trailers can be viewed at https://www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org/2018films/.

Tickets to the Wild & Scenic Film Festival are available at https://www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org/tickets-2018.

They can also be purchased from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the South Yuba River Citizens League office at 313 Railroad Avenue, Suite 101, Nevada City.

About the 2018 Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Considered the nation’s largest environmental and adventure film festival of its kind, the 16th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival combines stellar filmmaking, cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite solutions to restore the earth and human communities while creating a positive future for generations to come.

Festival-goers are treated to a wide variety of award winning films, including those about nature, community activism, adventure, conservation, water, energy, wildlife, and environmental justice.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is hosted and produced by South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) at several venues in Nevada City and Grass Valley, from Jan. 11 – 15, 2018.

For more information, visit WildandScenicFilmFestival.org

Pulling off the Victorian Christmas in Nevada City

“This is our signature event and it just gets better,” said Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Whittlesey, referring to the town’s annual Victorian Christmas festival series. “This year, vendors sold out three weeks in advance and usually that happens only two days before the start.”

The event might seem like a logistical nightmare to outsiders, but Whittlesey and her team pull it off seamlessly.

It takes a village

The chamber relies on dozens of volunteers to help stage each of the five Victorian Christmas events. Barricade Monitors ensure vendors access their spots via their assigned gates. Block Captains help vendors set up booths in the correct locations and answer questions.

City crews erect entertainment stages and fire pit seating before each event, and haul away bins of garbage afterwards.

Barbara Tanner has served as the volunteer event coordinator for Victorian Christmas since 1989. She said this year’s 40th anniversary festival began with a bang, with an even larger crowd than the usual 2,000 people who attend each event.

“We maxed out!” she said. “I’ve never seen that many people on the first day of the event. I credit good weather and good publicity.”

Each day or evening offers a variety of entertainment, from cloggers and Scottish dancers to strolling minstrels and stage bands. There are crafters selling everything from pottery and candles to garden art and toys. The food is just as diverse.

“A long time ago, we didn’t have many food vendors and the restaurants were getting slammed,” said Whittlesey. “We started getting more food vendors and the restaurants are still slammed.”

In the beginning, food vendors were mingled among the craft booths on Broad Street. But that created competition with local restaurants, so a food court was established on lower Commercial Street.

“Spectators know where to come to get that food and they also know the restaurants are open,” said Tanner, “so it serves both.”

Near and dear to organizers’ hearts is the Chamber’s Hot Toddy booth, at which volunteers sell the toasty, alcoholic libation.

“We gross close to $23,000 from the hot toddy booth and we net nearly $17,000,” said Whittlesey, adding that the booth was introduced five years ago. “That gives us funding for our chamber budget. And the fun thing is everyone wants to work that booth.”

“Before, we felt lucky if we broke even on Victorian Christmas,” said Tanner.

Another income stream for the Chamber is vendor fees: $400 for each of the 81 craft booths and $450 for the 12 food vendors, who also must be chamber members.

In the early days, all vendors’ items were juried by a committee headed by Tanner.

“As things evolved, we went online and got more high tech,” said Tanner. “We don’t see the products now. We depend on the vendor’s description and keep my fingers crossed that their product is top quality and handcrafted by them.”

Most vendors return year after year. One jeweler has had a booth at Victorian Christmas for two decades.

Musical booths

Booth placement is critical.

“It’s challenging to place vendors in areas that won’t conflict with brick and mortar shops near them,” said Tanner. “I once put booth selling hats in front of a hat store. He hadn’t told me he had hats, and I had to ask him to keep those items under the counter.”

Originally, all the vendors were placed along the curbs on both sides of the street. With that configuration, there was space for 125 booths. These days, there must be a 14-foot fire lane for fire truck access, which limits the number of booth spaces.

That hasn’t prevented the festival from drawing huge crowds, and often, big tour buses.

“We have many tour buses from outside the area, but we never know how many are coming,” said Tanner. “We’ve had as many as 17 and as few as none.”

Because parking near downtown is limited, the Chamber offers a $5 shuttle running continuously between the Rood Government Center and the top of Broad Street. Three shuttle buses run on Sunday afternoons, and two on Wednesday evenings.

Three days before each event, signs warning motorists where not to park are affixed to the pole of every parking meter. The day of each event, Whittlesey personally places another “No Parking” warning on the head of each parking meter.

“I also take out the garbage from the chamber office,” laughed Whittlesey. “But seriously, signage is a big deal. If someone gets towed, it’s a $300 fine.”

Despite plenty of planning, there have been hiccups, including an incident in the late 1980s that was alarming at the time but humorous now.

“Santa was riding in a horse-drawn wagon as it went over a speed bump, and Santa fell out,” said Whittlesey. “I came running into the office yelling, ‘Call 9-1-1, Santa fell off the wagon!’ My volunteers were thinking it was some kind of an Alcoholics Anonymous thing. There were no cell phones back then and it wasn’t funny at the time, but it is now because no one was hurt.”

The festival has been featured in countless national magazines and international tourist websites, including Fodor’s, Resorts & Lodges, and TripAdvisor. The crowds just keep coming.

“When the merchants, restaurants, and vendors are happy and satisfied, that makes it a success,” said Tanner.

“With all that money pouring through town,” said Whittlesey, “I’m sure it has a year-long effect because people love Nevada City.”

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. To suggest a business news feature, contact her at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.