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Creativity a big part of small town’s celebration

Most days neighbors in this bucolic Modoc County community live civilly – and separately.

Ranchers with roots 150 years deep in the Surprise Valley loam tip their Stetsons to artists and writers sipping lattes on Main Street, then drive on with their cow dog in the back of their pickup.

Saturday promises to bring old-timers and newcomers together.

Mountain Thunder Festival is an all-day, all-volunteer celebration of the range of creativity flourishing in the picturesque valley between the Warner Mountains and the Hayes Range in California’s northeastern corner, said Barbara March, the event’s coordinator.

“It’s all about the talent we have right here,” March said.

Local rancher Spencer Smith will discuss holistic grazing in the Community Church social hall, while the Cedarville Yoga Center hosts Kay Antunez de Mayolo, showing kids how to make paper with recycled fibers.

Nevada poet Shaun Griffin will teach a poetry workshop while Curtis Rose, fourth-generation owner of Surprise Valley Hot Springs, describes geothermal projects expected to go on line this year.

March called the festival a time to celebrate coming together in Cedarville, where the population has doubled to 500 since its founding in 1880, and the most prominent native son is Steven Kistler, inventor of aerogel, a material that has the same composition as glass, but is 99.9 percent air.

At KVYA, the world’s only radio station broadcasting from a meat locker, the NPR affiliate transmits to 200 people and 20,000 cows, said Jeff Cotton, station co-owner.

In a place where the barn-wood false fronts on Main Street are the real deal, local organic produce is making its way into the Cedarville Grocery. The cattle drive still comes through town, but now it passes parked Priuses with “Coexist” stickers on their bumpers.

March, a poet who has lived in Cedarville for 15 years, said Mountain Thunder is a cultural celebration “of all that enriches us.”

Old-timer Janet Hill will gather friends from around the valley to tell stories of hardship and humor. Surprise Valley students will follow with a poetry slam.

“Little by little, we’re seeing creativity bring us together,” March said.

Activities start with a drum circle at 9:30 a.m.

If you go

Mountain Thunder Festival

  • When: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday
  • Where: Cedarville
  • Cost: All events are free
  • Info: www.modocforum.org
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