Sunday, July 25, 2021


May Surprise turns five events into fundraising extravaganza 

The May Surprise in Colusa last Saturday had just about something for everyone, and perfect weather to boot. 

Visitors to Will S. Green Park enjoyed wine and cheese tasting, an art show, lunch, a history lesson, and a plant sale, all rolled into one event.

“This is our 15th year,” said Cynthia White, a founding member of Friends of the Colusa County Library, who started the event as a fundraiser to help buy books for the library.  

“We supply all the programs that the county will no longer pay for, including the Summer Reading Program,” White said. 

In 2011, May Surprise got its name when four other organizations teamed up to to attract more people. 

The Garden Club of Colusa County, responsible for the landscaping at a number of city and county buildings, sold plants propagated by their members in the Davison Pavilion to fund their activities. The Pacific Flyway Quilters hosted the lunch inside the Scout Cabin at Will S. Green Park and sold tickets to their annual quilt raffle. 

The Colusa Arts Council presented the work of artists Mary Ann Nation, Brendan Farrell, Sally J. Paul, Max Komissarchik, and Thomas Gentil. 

This was Gentil’s first showing of his work. The 2011 Colusa High School graduate, who took over the Generations embroidery business, has set out to paint all the historic sites in Colusa.  

Among his paintings on display was that of the twin water towers by the Sacramento River as he thought they would appear with one finished and the other under construction. 

“I couldn’t find a picture of it, so I painted what I thought they would look like,” he said. 

Concluding the May Surprise, the Colusa Heritage Preservation Commission awarded five “Century Awards” to the owners of well-preserved structures – both homes and businesses – that turned 100 years old in 2019. 

Historic structures included the Market Street home of Kittle’s Outdoor Sport Company, which housed the I.G. Zumwalt Company, and the former Fred Braden’s International Harvester Company building on Jay Street, the home of Selover’s Auto Center, which the Selover family acquired in 1983. 

Homes built in 1919 and making the century mark were those of Phil Martell, on Jay Street; Bill Abel, on Bridge Street; Gordon Wylie, on 10th St.; and Charles Yerxa, on Clay Street.  

Wylie’s home has been in his family since the early 20th century, and he acquired it from his parents, W. Bruce and Betty Wylie.  

“Mom and dad had lots of things in that house, and I’ve added crud to it,” joked Wylie, at Saturday’s presentation. 

The Yerxa home has been in the Yerxa family since 1946, after Max and Agnes Yerxa acquired it from J. Deter McNary, who lived in the home since 1926. 

Referred to as the Rev. Hugh T. Dobbins House, the Georgian Revival home was built for the Dobbins family by renowned California architect Julia Morgan, known for designing the Hearst Castle at San Simeon and many other historic homes. “There were about 800 buildings, mostly in Northern California, but also along the coast,” Yerxa said.  

While the May Surprise is five events rolled into one five-hour extravaganza, the Friends of the Library’s wine and cheese tasting is the highlight. 

Guests enjoyed sampling the wine of Holly’s Hill, Grindstone, Matchbook, Capay Valley, and Miraflores. 

Capay Valley has been at all 15 events, while Matchbook made its May Surprise debut on Saturday. 

Cheese sampled was that of Rumiano Cheese Company, which also turns 100 years old in 2019. ■

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