Goat Cheese Wins “By A Nose”

Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 09:22 AM.

“Would you like some chicken?” Glenda extended the whole tray toward us. Glenda and Tanya were sisters who “had the good fortune” to “catch” Buck and Art. We quickly learned of their early dating exploits and the late night rendezvous over on Ten Mile Creek. I wasn’t sure exactly who was married to whom. But they laughed a lot. And they seemed to enjoy our company as much as the music now coming from Alice Stuart and the Formerlys.

And they were proud to be from Laytonville and Mendocino County. They spoke repeatedly of “our home” and “our place”. I thought not unlike I had done all of my life.  They asked about my accent. I told them it was my West Tennessee upbringing mixed with a little Florida cracker. They were curious about the beaches with the white sand. I asked them about panning for gold and how did they pack grub and other necessities up those steep mountains in the winter. 

They wanted to know how we “found” the festival. I explained that we were just passing through on our way to Crater Lake. We had to sample Tonya’s goat cheese that had edged out all the other competitors’ at the recent Mendocino County Fair. And the tea, true to the folk music code, had a little too much green in it for me. But the chicken was great, as were the potatoes fries and the corn cakes.

I asked about the Black Oak Ranch that hosted this festival each year. Art worked for them at one time and he gave us the “low down”. He said that before the Kate Wolf thing took off, they used to have the annual “Hog Farm Pignic” here. I rolled that around a few times in my mind….. What a splendid concept! I told them they should have called me in 1992, I’d’a come a’running.

For a wrong turn, it turned out to be a great afternoon. I will remember the truly majestic Redwood trees. The drive up the northern coast (when Buck finally got us pointed in the right direction) was nothing short of stunning. And Crater Lake was so blue it would hurt your eyes to look at it. But, for me, the lasting memory will always be sitting around a wobbly table sharing food, music, conversation and life with some of the most regular folks I’ve ever met.

We have all been misinformed. California is not all Hollywood, glamour stars and wild liberals running loose. There are outstanding people in every corner of this great land of ours. The trick is to get off the beaten path of preconceived ideas and notions……..and sharing some goat cheese with them!


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