Wednesday, June 23, 2021


Stonyford celebrates vibrant history

Visitors to Stonyford on Sunday enjoy the first Founders Day festival, organized by Stonyrose Heritage Society, to celebrate the western community’s vibrant history. (Susan Meeker)

The wind was almost as fierce Sunday in Stonyford as it was on the valley floor, but it did not stop people from getting out in the fresh air to enjoy the town’s first Founders Day festival.

The event, hosted by Stonyrose Heritage Society, included a number of vendors, food, music, and activities for children.

The event celebrated the early settlers, including John L. Smith, who established the western foothill community as Smithville, in 1863, with a hotel, blacksmith shop, and the first lumber and flour mills in the area.

“We wanted to have a special day for it,” said organizer Jay Sanchinelli-Huttman. “It’s basically a festival for the town to get away from COVID a little bit.”

While the Stonyford Museum has been closed since March, except by appointment, Docent Joyce Bond and researcher Jeff Applegate took two people at a time through the old Town Hall to discover Stonyford’s vibrate history.

“Stony Ford (as it was originally spelled) got its name because of fording the creek with the stones and the rocks,” Bond said. “When the creek would rise, they would have to go further down the creek. If it rose real high, they couldn’t go at all. Stonyford was named for that.”

Stonyford’s true history dates even further back that settlement history, some 8,000 years, when the Salt Pomo Native American tribes established eight villages in the area around 6,000 BC, and traded salt well into the 19th century AD.

“The area was known for our salt,” Applegate said.

Stonyford Museum Director Penne Arbanasin engages young children in arts and crafts at the town’s Founders Day celebration on Sept. 27, 2020. (Susan Meeker)

In 1873, John Fouts established a resort in the area, known as Fouts Springs, where people from the urban centers of San Francisco visited to take in the healing powers of the water.

Fouts Springs’ history, as well as the history of the US Forest Service, is a new exhibit at the Stonyford Museum. A 19th century Native American water basket, belonging to the mother of Stonyford patriarch, Lawrence “Sharky” Moore (1901-1995), is also new on display at the museum.

Special for the Founder’s Day festival, which will continue by appointment, is a temporary exhibit of the work of foothill artists, including De Smet, the late Nan Garlin, Susan Polk, Richard Hester, Ann Simpson, L Cromer, Bill Harriman, Marinell Harriman, Curtis Auld, and Donna Burt.

“It’s unfortunate that we have been shut down,” said Stonyford Museum Director Penne Arbanasin, who hopes people will make an appointment to see the art exhibit. “It is important that we continue to push and keep (the museum) in the public to keep people interested and knowing that we are still here. It’s something that is important to us and our community, and we want to keep providing this service to the community.”

Vendors at the festival included a mix of Glenn and Colusa County entrepreneurs, including DJ Gerry Velasquez, who provided the music, El Taco Nazo, who provided street tacos and other food, Pandora’s Box Arts and Crafts of Orland, Daves Horseshoe Art, of Stonyford, Black Shire Almonds, of Arbuckle, Plants by Mel, of Elk Creek. Blue Rooster Gifts & Glass, J.V.’s Gardens, and more. Arbanasin led craft activities for children.

Stonyrose Heritage Society is a new member of the Colusa County Chamber of Commerce, and Sanchinelli-Huttman said the festival is a good way to get people together with local businesses who have been struggling with the COVID-19 shutdown.

Stonyrose is planning more events, as will participate and help facilitate the

The Chamber of Commerce’s Scarecrowlusa County 2020, a scarecrow decorating contest that will be held countywide.

“We’re trying to cooperate with other businesses and get out there to put Colusa County’s spirit here in Stonyford,” Sanchinelli-Huttman said.

Stonyrose will also host a Halloween bash on Oct. 31 at the Stonyford Town Hall, which will become a Haunted Hall the night of the Spookfest. The event will include a bounce house, food, games, and music.

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