With clear fall weather and 15 sites to visit, the sixth annual Sierra Valley Art and Ag Trail event saw an estimated 2,500 participants turn out Sept. 23 to tour barns, view artwork, purchase handmade products, and learn about local agriculture and history.
The SVAAT is a project of the Sierra County Arts Council, produced by Loyalton-based Musica Sierra. The “Trail” is a network of Sierra Valley locations, including historic barns, that are opened to the public for the day. Each location features a selection of exhibits, local vendors, and activities. There is no cost to “travel the trail,” though visitors are encouraged to purchase commemorative passports and prize drawing tickets in order to support the event.
“It’s such an honor to present this,” said Lindsay McIntosh, executive director of Musica Sierra, “being able to deep dive into what Sierra Valley is all about, share it with the community, and put beautiful art in it.” She spoke about her appreciation for the Trail’s sites, each with its unique challenges and rewards, and for the site hosts. Hosts contribute significant time and effort in preparing and opening their properties for visitors, said McIntosh.
This year saw the addition of the Genasci Barn, 5 miles west of Loyalton, as a stop on the Trail. Also new this year was a historical creamery and hardware store tour at Lombardi Mercantile, along with “History with Helen,” in which family matriarch Helen Roberti presented a history tour of the Roberti Ranch’s historic Prayer Cabin.
Feather River Land Trust’s Sierra Valley Preserve partnered with Yahmonee Maidu representatives to host storytelling, singing, and a brush house construction demonstration. This partnership was also a first for 2023; McIntosh said she is proud to facilitate the representation of the area’s indigenous culture and history.
This year’s SVAAT featured 60-plus vendors of handmade arts and crafts from the local Plumas and Sierra county areas, selling everything from jewelry to fiber arts, ceramics to painted barn wood, bath products to pine needle baskets. The event is free to vendors as well as visitors, and many vendors support the event by donating items for the fundraising prize drawing. McIntosh said she and her team are dedicated to “finding ways to honor artists”; for example, they plan to use feedback collected from a post-event survey to inform decisions on next year’s layout.
Kristi Jamason created the SVAAT in 2016, and handed over production of the event to Musica Sierra last year. This was the first year the nonprofit took on the event production independently. “Kristi was so gracious,” said McIntosh, both in helping the Musica Sierra team learn the ropes last year, and then in enabling them to fully embrace the event this year.
As the event continues to grow — up from an estimated 2,000 visitors last year — McIntosh said she looks forward to expanding with a grander and more strategic vision for the future. “People want to know more history,” she said, and Musica Sierra is excited to make the experience “easier and better.” “It’s such a great event,” she said.
To learn more about the Sierra Valley Art and Ag Trail, visit https://sierravalleyartagtrail.org/.