Stonyford starts new Independence Day tradition

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The last time Stonyford residents came together for an old-fashioned Fourth of July was the U.S. Bicentennial, which celebrated the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

“It’s been a really long time,” said Jay Huttmenelli, of the Stonyrose Heritage Society, which organized Thursday’s patriotic parade and picnic in the small foothill community in western Colusa County. “It was in 1976.”

With the July 4 falling mid-week, residents who weren’t able to get away – or make a four-day weekend out of the federal holiday – enjoyed celebrating America’s birthday with family and friends at Sharkey Field.

“It turned out to be a pretty good event,” said Joyce Bond. “The big shade trees makes it real nice.”

The town’s first Fourth of July celebration in decades began with a parade of decorated vehicles and a Bear Valley/Indian Valley Fire truck, all displaying the American Flag or red, white, and blue.

For its inaugural event, the Stonyrose Heritage Society picked up expenses for the free hot dog and hamburger barbecue, although donations were accepted to help with future events. Side dishes like baked beans and potato, Jell-O, and noodle salads complemented the dinner and came from the community “pot-luck” style.

A variety of pies prepared by community members were also served, but only after five judges; Sandy Corbin, Kayla Grosberg, Barbara Cook, Irene Huttman, and John Huttman, had a crack at their pre-cut presentation and taste in the event’s first pie contest.

“They were really good,” Corbin said. “Any one of them can be brought to my Thanksgiving dinner. I wouldn’t mind that a bit.”

First place and bragging rights for a year was given to Barbara Piearski, of Chico, caretaker for 88-year-old Stonyford resident Milo Bengston.

“We thought it was a pie-eating contest,” laughed Piearski. “We just started throwing stuff together. Then we found out it was a contest for the best and most elaborate pie.”

While judges were enthralled with Piearski’s delectable coconut cream pie, Sandy Stahr’s lemon meringue received a second place award and Fran Dunn’s pecan pie took third place.

Shortly after the judging, all the pies, including a pineapple cream and strawberry rhubarb quickly disappeared into the bellies of those in attendance.

Thursday’s celebration, which is to be an annual event in Stonyford, included a BMX stunt show by Cory Walters of Gypsy Ranch Bikes, games for children, and “Safe and Sane” fireworks at dark.

The Stonyrose Heritage Society was formed last fall as an organization primarily for the beautification of Stonyford, and plans to place wine barrels along Market Street that are planted with roses.

“That is where the name came from,” Huttmenelli said.

The Stonyrose Heritage Society also plans to host additional community events and partner with the museum for ongoing historical research about the town’s origins, which dates back to the early pioneers, cattle and dairymen, and gold miners of Colusa County.

“Mainly, what made the town so future generations don’t forget its history,” Huttmenelli said. “One of the things we want to do is a video interview of the older people in town; the originals basically.”

Stonyrose’s next event will be the Great Gatsby Dance on Sept. 21, which will be a decorated and costumed gala celebrating the roaring 1920s.

The event, which includes a sit-down dinner with cocktails from the era, will be held in September. Tickets will be $20 per person.

“All the money raised will go to putting the planters around town and a new sign downtown, which was stolen during the rodeo,” Huttmenelli said.