Great Stories about Great People

Locals Take Over Big Valley Market
By Valerie Lakey

Bieber – It seems appropriate that Tim and Tammy Babcock are the new owners of Big Valley Market. It was 1931 when Tim’s uncle, Gerald Packwood built the store. It was open for business in 1932 and the Babcock’s will celebrate the 80th anniversary of the store this spring. The Babcock’s are as local as you can get. In fact, Tammy was the first twin born at Mayers Memorial in October of 1962. Her and her twin brother Tim DeAtley hold a place in history.

Escrow closed on the local store November 23, 2011. Since that time the new owners have been working hard to make needed renovations and improvements. “We just really wanted to do our part. I was discouraged seeing what was happening to our town. The community has been discouraged since we have lost employment. In a small community, I think it is our job to build each other up.” Tammy said.

After doing some general clean-up the bigger projects have been prioritized. Painting and other projects will be on the agenda for the spring. Currently Tammy says they are working on the “John Deere Wall.” This is where the foodservice are will be. There will be a salad bar; hot foods, roller grill, coffee, soda fountain and the deli sandwich table will eventually be moved to this area. There are tables and chairs for the morning coffee crew and a great place to sit and eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The locals come in the morning for their coffee and a chance to watch the news. “We have this great television bought with money from the tip jar.” Tammy said.  If you need a place to grab a bite to eat any time of day, Big Valley Market is the place. Breakfast foods, lunch including great deli sandwiches and dinner items are all on the menu. Monday is Mexican food night, Tuesdays feature Italian food and Thursdays are hot Dogs. Friday evenings are BBQ night with tri-tip and ribs. Take and bake and cooked pizzas are available always.

The store is open 7 days a week from 6:30 am to 7:00 pm. The hours will expand from daylight to dark during the summer. “I am not sure how that will all work out,” Tammy laughed, “we have pretty busy summers with our farming and custom hay business. We will see.” Currently, the store has three employees and Tammy spends all day every day there. “We will have more employees in the summer.”

Big Valley Market has all you need. Produce, meat, grocery items, dairy and cold drinks fill the shelves. The Babcock’s invite you to stop by and see what is going on in the store. 

Farmer Seeks Assembly
By Valerie Lakey

Third generation farmer, businessman, community leader and Lassen County Supervisor are just a few of Brian Dahle’s qualifications. Dahle is taking that resume to the ballot as a candidate for California State Assembly District 1. According to Dahle, “It has all been about timing.” He feels the time is right to do something about what he feels so passionate about.

After serving 16 years as a Lassen County Supervisor, Dahle feels he is in a good place to move on and do something different. “The County is in a good place. We are debt free, we have worked as a team to fix problems and have had to share in the pain with the things that came with the loss of revenue.” He says he cares about California and wants to be there to help fix the problems of our state. “I have a saying, it may sound corny, but I believe it to be true. If you’re not at the table, you are on the menu.” With that philosophy, Dahle chooses to get involved and be an active part of solutions. “I don’t just go to meetings, I chair committees and take an active leadership role.”

When addressing some of his concerns about state government, Dahle says there are many issues. One of the biggest is the regulatory attack on our way of life. “I am in business and have employees. I have an understanding from that perspective. We need jobs to create a tax base, but we continue to penalize those people creating the jobs. There is little reward for those people willing to take the big risk of being in business. We need to stop exporting jobs and take the risk out of being in business.”

Waste is another point Dahle spoke about. “We waste so much money in our state. In Lassen County we have a balanced budget. We are debt free. We may not have the nicest buildings, but we get our job done. The supervisors took the lead with a salary reduction. We have combined departments and reduced wages. We own all of our assets.” An example of state overspending according to Dahle is the Lassen County Courthouse. “The state has taken over the county court system. You should see the courthouse the state built. $40 million dollars was spent on the building. In my opinion, a lot less could have been spent and the other funds could have been put to good use in education or other areas. Where are the priorities?”

A lack of leadership at the state level is another concern for Dahle. “The state is taking the wrong approach to creating revenue. We need to look at what drives the economy, and it is not raising taxes. We have so many resources in California. It is unbelievable we cannot make it work. At the end of the day it is all common sense.”

Common sense is something Dahle says he has plenty of. “I have been through the school of hard knocks. Through experience I have learned many lessons. I have been able to look at something and say ‘that’s not going to work’ or ‘that’s a great idea’. We can do better for our families and I am not willing to settle for less for future generations.”

This step is one that Dahle doesn’t take lightly. It will require time away from his family and his business. “I want our future generations to have opportunity.” Dahle feels that his deep ties to the agriculture community, the fact that he is a businessman and a family man makes him a good candidate. “I am not a politician. I have lived a real life. There is no prestige in my mind that comes with being in politics. I am not running for this position for the salary. I have a business that provides our living. I am doing this because I care.”

Dahle does have experience though, he has served on a number of state committees and has provided and active leadership role. He believes in a balanced budget, economic freedom and regulatory reform. He supports private property rights, the right to bear arms, sealing our borders, the constitution, and personal responsibility and doesn’t believe in the redistribution of wealth.

Dahle and his wife Megan have three children and farm 2000 acres. They also own and operate Big Valley Seed Company and Big Valley Nursery.

“I believe if your heart is in the right place, people will get behind you.” For more information on Dahle, see his website at

Local Author Wants to Provide Hope
By Valerie Lakey

“If anything in my dad’s story makes a difference in the lives of others, then the hell that we lived through was not in vain.” This statement sums up why Edna Eades wrote a book about her father’s journey. “Who is This Man, A Journey Through Alzheimer’s” (Journey) was an act of love, courage and hope. It is an effort by Eades to “spare others form learning the hard way.”

Eades said she knew she always had it in her to write a book. “I finally decided to do it, to put this story on paper in order to help others.”  She started the book in 1998, right after her father, Ray Methvin passed away. His journey through Alzheimer’s took the family right along side from 1994-1998. Eades found it so difficult and was discouraged early on. “I laid it aside for 10 years. When I came back to it, I wrote for about 4 years.” Eades and her mother, Ruth Methvin, kept extensive notes through the journey. The book was born from notes, calendars and weekly letters Eades sent to her children. The book was published in December of 2011. “It was hard to release these feelings to the whole world.”

This book is not only for people dealing directly with Alzheimer’s. It is not a technical book full of facts and medical information. It is a book for anyone. It is a book from the heart. It is a book that opens the heart of a family as they journey down a tough road. “It is not a story about Alzheimer’s, it is a story about life.” Eades said. “It is how we dealt with impossible situations.”

Eades does a beautiful job of portraying her father through his life. It is a piece of history. It journeys down the road of Methvin’s childhood, his war days, his family and ultimately his brave battle with Alzheimer’s. “I wanted people to see how he was and what his life was like so it was clear how much the Alzheimer’s had changed him.” Eades included Methvin’s war letters to her mother, a gallery of pictures and personal illustrations to help the reader gain a better understanding of the journey. “By telling my dad’s story, I speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Eades said that she hopes the book will allow the reader a better understanding of the disease. “I learned that you have to enter the world of the patient. You can’t expect them to enter your world. I learned to realize what place and time my dad was in by the references to people and places he made. I knew where he was by what he called me.” She continued, “There were times that he was ‘there’, it was important for me to always see him, because I didn’t want to miss those times.” It is these kinds of messages that make this book a must read.

Eades does include a section in the back of the book addressing medication guidelines, practical advice and care guideline for caregivers. Eades was not only able to approach this road as a daughter, but as a nurse. A retired nurse of 18 years, Eades can relate to the medical aspects of the disease, although the personal message she feels is much more important.
I would highly recommend this book. It takes a look at an open heart and truly can provide insight to a complicated and hard to understand disease. The history is a wonderful treasure and will appeal to anyone.

How did she get through this whole journey I asked her, “My faith.”

Eades says she is thinking about writing another book someday and has some ideas. She has 12 years worth of notes filed away and has been collecting quotes since the fourth grade.

“Who is This Man” is available at and can also be downloaded as an e-book. For a signed copy you can contact Eades at PO Box 270, Lookout, CA 96054.

Cattewomen Promote Agriculture and Provide Education
By Valerie Lakey

It was 1955 when a few local ranchers’ wives put their heads together and founded the Cowbelles. Liz Albaugh, Shirley McArthur and Norma Callison were a few of the instrumental women in forming an organization, which has grown to promote the beef and agriculture industries.

“Initially they started the group to compliment the cattlemen, doing things like providing dinners for the local feeder sale.” Said Joanne Bruce and Glorianne Weigand. Over the years the efforts of these agriculture women has grown and they have become a strong advocate or our rural lifestyles. Bruce and Weigand are great sources of information as they have been in the organization for 45 and 55 years respectively. The organization changed from Cowbelles to Cattlewomen and the efforts have gone from making dinners to promoting agriculture.

The primary purpose of the Intermountain CattleWomen is to educate and promote. “Agriculture education is essential, many people don’t understand this life.” Said Weigand.  Preserving the ranching and agriculture lifestyle is also a focus of the group. “We care about the land and are stewards of the land. We have a personal interest in taking care of the land because that is how we make our living.” Said Bruce.

“Often times there are two sides of the fence”, the ladies explained, “We need to bridge the gap and educate.” They added that it really helps to bring people here to see our operations and how we do thing. “Seeing makes them understand.”

The cattlewomen have done a great job of doing just that. Bruce has hosted kindergarten students at her ranch for 40 years and Weigand previously hosted students for the same amount of time at the ranch the owned in Big Valley. Not only do students come, but a lot of parents and teachers. “This is a great chance for us to show the kids how things how things work on a farm or ranch. They see the eggs, baby chicks and full size chickens. They even get to see how we make butter.” Bruce said.

In addition, 3rd grade students over the years have attended ranch days at local ranches where they have learned about beef by products, animal health care, hay and farm equipment, horses and environmental stewardship. Classroom presentations have also been done over the years.

The cattlewomen are known for their support of our local students. Last year they awarded $8000 in scholarship money to local students pursuing a career in an agriculture related occupation. Additionally the group has donated over $4000 to support local 4-H, FFA, Junior Rodeo and various other community events and organizations.

Funds for these projects are raised mainly through the auction at the annual Cattlemen’s Dinner. This year’s dinner and auction is scheduled for March 24th.
The cattlewomen’s activity list is long and there is something for everyone. They provide subscriptions to Range Magazine to schools, libraries, hospitals and doctor’s offices. They offer merit and encouragement awards to local 4-H and FFA Beef exhibitors. They have a fair booth, parade entry and sponsor a queen pageant candidate. Certificates for
4-H, Home Ec and Sober Grad events are donated. Beef roasts are presented to New Year’s and Father’s Day babies. “We do whatever we can to promote beef and agriculture.” Said Weigand.

A big event for the organization is the free Veteran’s Day Dinner they host. This has proven to be a great community service.

A new event is a “Crock Pot Seminar” to be hosted at Adin Supply on each Thursday in February at 6:00 p.m.  “We are always looking for new ideas,’ said Weigand.

The membership meets four times per year. The group is comprised of women from the Intermountain Area and Big Valley. Current membership is around 50 members. “We had 70 plus at one time,” Bruce commented. “We are looking for new members.”

Dues are $25 per year for local and state. “You don’t have to live on a ranch or raise cattle to be a cattlewomen. An interest in promoting agriculture is all you need to have. There are many ways to help and it is a lot of fun too.” Explained Bruce and Weigand.

The next meeting is scheduled for April 18th. For more information contact Bruce or Weigand or President Becky Albaugh of Adin.

50+ Years of Customer Service

Taking Care of Customers for Over 50 Years
By Valerie Lakey

Years ago Lawrence Agee was called by General Motors and told he needed to attend a mandatory meeting in Detroit. He went expecting it to be a big meeting of many dealers. When he arrived he wondered, “Why am I here?” The meeting was fairly small and attendees were all big dealerships. “I was just a little guy, I had no idea why I would be there with some of the biggest dealers in the country.”

At the meeting, a screen was shown displaying, “Hiway Garage – 100% Customer Satisfaction.” According to Agee, one of the “top dogs” asked if he (Agee) filled out the customer service surveys for his customers. “I couldn’t believe he said that, of course I didn’t.” Then how, the man wondered, do you get 100% satisfaction?

Come to find out, the other dealers in the room were suffering in that category and Agee was brought there to tell them all how he did it. “Take care of your customers, meet them, talk to them,” was his advice.

This philosophy has carried Agee’s business since 1949 when he started with his father. “I think people have my number on their speed dial,” he laughed. Agee is known for helping anyone day or night. I myself, have called him at home, in what I thought was an emergency. He is always willing to help. While interviewing him, a customer was glad to pitch in on the comments. “I had family that you opened the garage for on a Sunday,” she said. “You have always taken care of us.”

Hiway Garage was established in 1924. Agee and his father took ownership in 1949. For a short time, Agee was not the owner. “At the persuasion of Chevrolet, we sold in 1978. They felt it would be better for the dealership to bring in some city people to run things. That didn’t work out so well.” By 1980, after Agee got the franchises back, he started all over again.

Rumor was that Agee was looking to sell and retire. “Nope, it is not for sale at this time. I guess if the right person came along I would consider it. I was told I need to slow down a bit. I have a 39-year-old mind in an old body. I am not ready to stop.”

Agee’s sons Lester and David work for the garage. His grandson Larry worked there until recently. Agee credits his wife Eleanor for much of his success. “She has put up with me and this business for 52 years, the phone calls during the night and everything else.”

In 2009 Chevrolet took the dealership from Hiway Garage. With what Agee calls a “union based decision”, the little guys were eliminated. Over 2300 dealerships were closed. “If you weren’t selling 100 cars per month you were classified as a non-performing dealer.” He continued that it was a means to give less option to customers to find a better deal making them willing to pay more. Agee was disappointed over the loss of the dealership. “We had always been recognized for taking good care of our customers and then it was taken away.”
“We had sold cars for a long time. It has changed a lot. I remember in 1950 Earl Barr bought a Chevy Panel, the old Suburban without the windows, for $800. Now a new suburban is in the $60,000 range.”

The proof of his success is all over the walls of the garage. Multiple award from General Motors plaster the walls recognizing exemplary customer service. His devotion to helping people goes outside of the business. Honors and awards from every organization in town line the walls. He was a 4-H leader for 22 years, chief of the McArthur Fire Department for years, five times past Master of the Masonic Lodge, Citizen of the year twice, Blue Ribbon winner, Mary Lakey Award winner, Inter-Mountain Fair Grand Marshall just to name a few.

Agee is a great supporter of the youth of the community. He has sponsored Little League teams, purchased animals at the Junior Sale and donated a car to the Shasta County Dare Program.

Agee loves what he does, “I want to take care of people.” It shows by his 3:30 am arrival time at the shop. What does he do at that time of the morning? “Well, this morning I shredded papers. I usually just do what needs to be done, cleanup, sweeping and getting ready for the day.” If you are looking for him at 5:00 am, you won’t find him at the shop. He has his own key to the coffee shop and he heads down to turn the lights on and get the coffee started. “We all meet in the morning to settle the world’s crisis’. This is where you get the whole scoop.”

I asked Agee is he had some general advice to share. “They wouldn’t want me running this country. I’d make people work and the government people need to learn to work.”  He says he talks softly, but carries a big stick. “ Some say I have been lucky, I have been. But I believe the harder you work the more luck you have.” Agee has worked hard over the years and knows the value of a dollar. “I still bend over to pick up a penny. Some people trip over a quarter to make a nickel.”

Agee is full of stories, too many to print. He is a staple in the business community and is known for his many contributions and willingness to always help.

It still comes down to taking care of people, knowing your customers and providing good service. About that meeting in Detroit, Agee concluded, that a month later he received a phone call from one of the big dealers from the meeting. “I want to thank you he said, I had the most fun I have ever had. I spent the day in the service department working with the customers.” Agee could only respond, “Now you know what it is all about.”

Diversified Ag in the IM Area

Intermountain Ag Community Benefits From Diversity
By Valerie Lakey

Part one of a series

Hay, wild rice, garlic, mint, strawberries, horseradish, livestock and a few more. The diversified nature of the Intermountain agriculture community has provided the stability local growers need to “keep the farm.” According to local growers, “not having all of your eggs in one basket” allows operations to weather commodity price changes.

This is an introduction to a series that will address the various commodities in the area, crops that have come and gone and potential crops for the future. In addition, factors such as marketing, pest management and rotational strategies will be included.

A large reason the Intermountain area has been successful in a variety of crops has been through the guidance of UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor, Dan Marcum. Marcum serves as the Shasta County expert and works out of his McArthur office. Marcum says, “I am here to help produce quality, quantity and increase economic yields.” Of his many duties, some of the primary focus is research, trials and always looking for something new. “I have done a lot of traveling with growers over the years to look at potential crops. This is the best way to learn about new commodities and getting the growers in touch with each other really helps.”

Marcum first looks at where a potential crop is grown, can the local area grow it and most importantly can it be marketed. Grower education is also a focus. The cooperative extension provides many workshops and meetings to provided informational tools to the growers.

Marcum always encourages growers to try new things. “I suggest to try it on a small scale to de-bug the system.” Many growers have taken his advice and have built strong commodities such as garlic. Mint, wild rice and horseradish are other crops that have done well in the area. Marcum says when he first came to the Intermountain area; hay, grain and potatoes were the staple crop. “Commodities have really diversified.”

Next week… a look at specific crops. Here from the growers about market outlooks, crops advantages and marketing.

BFREF Directors Tour Funded Grants

McArthur – The Burney Fall River Education Foundation Board of Directors saw their funding in action last week. Prior to the regular board meeting, the directors were given a tour of projects recently completed at Fall River High School.

Superintendent, Greg Hawkins and FRHS Principal Jeannie Utterback joined the group as they looked at the completed Solar Panel Project and the Video Telepresence System.

Steve Hubauer, teacher at FRHS, wrote a grant for a solar panel to supply power to the site’s greenhouse. Eventually the barn area will also be connected to the power source. Students Elizabeth Madrigal and Sierra Carnegie explained the project details, including the installation of the solar panel and the conversion system to the members of the board.

BFREF members were also given a demonstration of the video telepresence system. The foundation contributed $75,000 to the half million-dollar grant project funded through the Rural Utilities Grant.  The local school district was the only entity in the state to receive the nationwide grant.

District math teacher, Brenda Rodriguez and district technology director, Ken Wike demonstrated how the system works. Currently math classes are being taught from both ends of the district using the system. Bill Ford teaches a class from Burney High School with students at FRHS connected. Rodriguez teaches from the Fall River site with Burney students on the other end.

The system has been utilized significantly for staff development, virtual field trips and district meetings. 

Students Want to Give Back

McArthur – Sometimes young people don’t think they can make a difference.  Students at Fall River Community Day School and Soldier Mountain High School have learned that is not true.  They can make a difference; they just need to be willing to get involved.

It began when Soldier Mountain teacher’s aided Cindy Lewis told the students about a fundraiser the Intermountain Hospice was having.  Mrs. Lewis’s husband was a hospice patient and she is very connected with the program.  The students in Jeff Earnest’s class thought being involved in this fundraiser was a great way to give back to the community.

The fundraiser, hosted by the Intermountain Hospice, is a Chair-ity Auction that will take place on October 1st at 7:00pm at the VFW Hall in Burney. The event, "Sample Simply Scrumptious Sweets & Bid on Unique & Beautiful Chairs," will cost a $10 admission.  The organizers were looking for chair donations like rocking chairs, kitchen chairs, garden chairs, stools, benches, side tables etc.  They can be new, handmade, cleverly decorated, refurbished, enhanced, artfully painted and accessorized. The important thing is that each be unique, creative and desirable.  

The enthusiasm spread from the Soldier Mountain students to Grant Beyer’s Fall River Community Day School class next door.  Both classes began working on creating their unique chairs. In Earnest’s class Trista Avila came up with the design and all of the classmates got to work. They have spent about 10 days working on the project.

Earnest said his class has been trying to complete at least one community service project each semester.  Student, Gabby Gonzales said, “It is a good way for us to give back to our community and break the stereotype we sometimes have as students over here.”  David Moore said that everyone had a part and it was a lot of fun, “there were even a few paint fights.” Everyone agreed that it was a fun group project and everyone’s opinion counted.  Last semester the students painted a new sign for the front of the school.

Beyer’s class members expressed much of the same sentiments. Their chair focused on word of affirmation.  Several students in Beyer’s class love art and found this project to be a lot of fun and challenging.  Student Liddy Tooley said she really enjoys art and thought participating in this project was a good opportunity to do community service.

Organizers of the Chair-ity event are anticipating a lot of creative chairs including the two from these students. There will be awards for most improved, most unique, glitziest, zaniest and a people's choice. Call Intermountain Hospice at Mayers (336-5511) or Tara Travel (335-3627 for more information. 

Lola Harris is Heritage Winner

Flowers, canned foods, baked goods, vegetables and more all with the entry tag bearing the name of Lola Harris of Burney.  Lola has been entering items in the fair since 1951 when she entered a table cloth and placed third.  She consistently has prize-winning entries.  Quantity and quality are at the top of Lola’s list, as she enters many entries each year, brining home many ribbons.

Harris has been awarded with the first time heritage Exhibitor award. This award was presented by the Inter-Mountain Fair Heritage Foundation to the exhibitor who entered and placed in the most divisions.  Harris receives a $500 award for entering over 100 canned items, 30 baked items and 10 floriculture exhibits.

Harris is planning on putting the prize money to good use, traveling to Las Vegas to watch their granddaughter, Miss Rodeo Montana compete in the National competition.  Harris also says everyone needs to write their legislatures to restore funding to our California fairs.

Fairgrounds staff estimates entries were slightly up, although final figures are not in yet.  Attendance figures are still being finalized.

Figures for the Junior Livestock Auction show a large increase, bringing in over $65,000 more than the 2010 sale. The Sale brought in $368,789. Averages in all three animal species were also up.  The Pete Lakey Memorial Pig brought n $10,088 and the Heritage Foundation Pig collected $11,000.

Events were well attended with the Destruction Derby once again drawing the largest crowd.  Local Resident Jeff Crane won the main event.  McArthur driver David Agee was the Most Aggressive Driver. Johnny Hay of Susanville was 2nd place, Jonathon Stephenson of McArthur was third and first year driver, Colton VanRiet of Fall River Mills was fourth.  Lindsey Crum of McArthur was the mini car class for the second year in a row.

Final figures and results from the 2011 Inter-Mountain Fair will be available soon.


It’s Not All Corn Dogs and Cotton Candy
A Behind the Scenes Look at the Fair

When you walk in the gates at the Inter-Mountain Fair, you see rides, smell the food, hear the laughter and feel the excitement.  You spend the day, spend your money and hopefully have a great time.  You experience a day or two at the local county fair.  Do you ever stop to think what it took to make the fair happen?

The fair doesn’t happen over night.  It takes a full year of preparation to be ready for the annual event. What needs to be done? The rides just don’t show up and there is suddenly a fair.  There is a lot to the planning and preparation, here’s a little background.

Contracts – In order to have a fair many types of contracts must be completed.  There are contracts for vendors and concessionaires. There are contracts for the carnival and entertainment.  There are contracts for the garbage, portable toilets and other miscellaneous jobs.  There are contracts for the clown, the pony rides, judges and the juggler.  These all have to be written, signed, approved and on file before the fair happens.

Entries and Exhibits – The many jars of jam, flower arrangements, photographs and quilts don’t just show up judged and displayed in the exhibit buildings at the fair.  After each fair, entry numbers are evaluated and preparation for the next year’s premium list is started. The premium list or entry catalog is completed as a guide for exhibitors to enter a variety of divisions and classes.

Once the exhibitor turns in an entry form, the work begins.  Forms are sorted by department and then entries are input in to an entry processing program. Deficiencies are checked, tags are printed and sorted.  When the exhibitor brings their entry to the fair, much work had already been done preparing to receive that one jar of jam.

Clerks, judges and building personnel are needed to display, evaluate and watch over the many entries.  This is all organized long before any spectator walks into an exhibit building.

Personnel – The fair requires many hours of labor.  There are clerks, administration, maintenance and people and many others in volunteer positions. The amount of time logged to make the fair happen is amazing.  This year the fair has had to do it with less help. Two full time employees, the Business Assistant and the Lead Maintenance position have been laid off due to state budget cuts.  This move saved the fair $100,000.  Last year IMF had a budget of $637,000; it has been trimmed to $400,000 this year. California State budget cuts eliminated the $32 million dollars of funding California’s 78 fairs receives.   

Volunteers and Sponsors – The fair would not survive without the many volunteers and sponsors that contribute time, resources and money.  Soliciting, organizing and recognizing these people are other responsibilities the fair management works on throughout the year. Banners displayed throughout the fairgrounds recognize these many individuals and businesses. The Intermountain Fair Heritage Foundation has been formed and contributes to improvements to the fairgrounds.  “Efforts like these allow us to keep getting things done.” Said MacFarlane. The foundation has already accomplished several projects and has a list of future projects.

This is just a small sample of the many things that have to be accomplished prior to opening the gates of the fair.  Once opening day happens, the work continues to keep the fair running smoothly.  There are transitions to be made in the grandstand arena as the venue goes for rodeos to derbies.  There is set up in Ingram Hall for concerts and dinners.  There is livestock set-up, trash removal, restroom maintenance and a lot of customer service.

In a typical day, management, directors and staff deal with a large range of challenges.  Fair manager Bob MacFarlane can be seen all of the fairgrounds dealing with event set-ups, plumbing and electrical issues, taking livestock pictures or consulting with vendors. Directors are often fielding questions, listening to concerns and promoting the fair.  Staff members deal with complaints, questions and provide general fair information.  Administrations collects concession fees, sells tickets and handles most everything concerning the public.

When the first visitor arrives each day, it looks as if things on the fairgrounds are magically prepared. Staff arrives on the grounds long before the first visitor walks through the gates.  Flowers are watered, the streets are swept, garbage is removed and the fairgrounds, vendors, exhibitors and staff are ready for another day at this Old-Fashioned County Fair.

The next time you walk through the gate, take a minute to think about all of the work behind the scenes that make this Labor Day Weekend tradition one of the best in the state.  It is a community effort and the result is an amazing community event.

3-Day for a Cure Inspires in Many Ways
By Valerie Lakey

Some people have ideas.  Some people think about what can and should be done.  Some people put it all together and get it done.  In taking a step in the direction of action, one may find benefits and inspiration they didn’t know existed.

Monica Lommen of Fall River Mills has a great story to tell and the event hasn’t happened yet.  In March of 2010, Monica decided to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure event.  Her part in the fight against breast cancer is one of many across the country aimed at raising money for the disease.

Monica will participate in the 60 mile, three day walk next month in San Francisco. Proceeds from her fundraising efforts will benefit breast cancer research and community education programs. She is walking in honor of her neighbor, Gail Betz.

“I want to honor Gail, she is an amazing neighbor and friend.  She is a wife, mother of two daughters and she is a survivor.” Monica said.  “I want to help with this cause.  Love is an action word and I want to act in showing love.”

Monica had to raise $2300, but set her personal goal at $2500.  She has achieved beyond her goal with a current total of over $2700.  “I have received so much support from the Fall River and Big Valley communities.”  She sent out 84 letters and received $1800 from people pledging $100 each.  “People are so supportive in this area.  I was determined to achieve my goal.”

Monica said this has been a big blessing for her to be able to participate.  “I am able to contribute and work toward a good cause and my blessing was getting in shape.”  She will have logged over 600 miles of training before the event.  A commitment of time for training and fundraising has brought Monica very close to the cause.

The event will require walking 60 miles, around 20 miles each day, September 9 – 11.  Monica will be staying at the 3-Day for the Cure Camp on Treasure Island.  She will be sharing a 6 x 6 pink tent with another participant, which she has never met.  “This is a big deal for me.  I am a city girl and definitely not a camper,” she laughed.  

Monica will be accomplishing a big goal because she decided to put her heart into action.  “I have had amazing support from my family and the community and I am privileged to be able to do this.”  To donate, follow her progress or learn more about the event go to

Wild Rice…Nutty and Nutritious
By Valerie Lakey

Wild Rice is not rice at all. It is a wild grass that has been around for centuries.  Mahnomen, as it is called by Native Americans, was harvested from the streams and lakes of Northern Minnesota and Canada by the Chippewa and Sioux Indians.  This nutrient filled grass was a staple heavily relied upon to get through the long hard winters.

Wild Rice was an important part of the Native American diet because of its high protein content.  It could also be stored for long periods of time. The aquatic seed, Zizania aquatic, grew abundantly in the freshwater lakes and was easily harvested by the local tribes.

Commercialization of wild rice began in the early 1600s, by explorers and traders. The wild rice was described "wild oats," as the kernels of rice are surrounded by a hull, like oats. At harvest time a good stand of wild rice resembles a grain field from a distance. Wild Rice soon became very valuable to these early explorers as a food supply and for trading.

Wild rice was named by the explorers as they noticed the Native Americans gathering the wild crop in the waters of the Great Lakes region. The tall headed grass would rise 3 or 4 feet above the water, resembling rice paddies.

About 80% of the wild rice in the United States today is grown in paddies, a practice that began about 1972.  Northern Minnesota, the Upper Mississippi Valley, California, Washington, and Idaho are areas where hybrid varieties of wild rice are being grown and harvested by farmers. There are some challenges to the wild rice crop. The seeds do not grow well in stagnant water, and varieties had to be developed to adapt to grow the “tame” wild rice.

Commercially produced wild rice dates back to 1962 when Minnesota farmers began trying to tame the wild grass.  This proved to be a difficult process.   California’s Wild Rice industry began in the early 1970’s when a white rice farmer decided to try growing the crop in the northern part of the state.  It was 1977 when the crop began commercial production in California. The crop is grown in the manmade paddies filled with about a foot of water.  California’s climate has proven beneficial to the crop.  The dry warm summers of California are conducive to the growth of the aquatic grass.

Northeastern California has become a leading supplier of California’s wild rice.  There are several factors that contribute to the ability to grow this tamed crop effectively. Area farmers have learned to manage the water and control potential pests.  There is an absence of disease and the climate is ideal.  Much of the acreage is reseeded annually. Fall River Wild Rice, a grower owned Cooperative, provides need marketing, representation and information to the grower.  Additionally Goose Valley Farms is a large grower and supplier of the area’s annual production.

Demand was down in 2010, so there was a decline in acreage.  That acreage is climbing in 2011, but some fields have remained fallowed.

Growers and suppliers strive to inform the consumer of the benefits of the unique crop. The rich nutty crop is loaded with nutritional value and is very high in protein. Cooked wild rice has nutty flavor and a chewy texture. Wild rice leads the way in grains in nutritional value.  Wild rice is high in protein and fiber, low in fat and only has 83 calories per ½ cup serving.  

Wild rice is a substitute for potatoes or regular rice. It is used in a variety of foods such as dressings, casseroles, soups, salads, and desserts. Wild rice can be found in muffins, pancakes cereals, chips and cookies. Wild rice is also an excellent source of the B vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.


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