The Redwood Mountain Faire is Renewed and New
A legend had grown in the San Lorenzo Valley about a great event that had brought the entire community together, overcoming issues of dissension and bringing happiness to thousands. For years, SLV folks (joined by hundreds of outside visitors) came in free shuttle buses to Highlands Park for a weekend of arts and music that was wonderful… they called it, “The Faire,” but its official name was closer to “The Redwood Mountains Fine Arts & Crafts Faire and Folk Music Festival.” Gone but not forgotten, twelve years after the last one, Julie Hendriks listened to her adult son’s words when he said, “Mom, I miss the Faire. Why can’t it be put on again?” Inspired, she proposed to the Valley Women’s Club that the Faire be renewed, and that it might find a new and better venue at Roaring Camp. Happily, the VWC concurred. Even better, Roaring Camp’s owner/operator, Georgiana Clark, who was Julie’s close friend, was enticed to give it a try.
Julie had been active in the original Faire as an artist and volunteer, and she hoped to provide more people with happy-memory-making experiences. Word got out, and a group of committed volunteers quickly formed to organize the “The Redwood Mountain Faire.” Every member of what came to be called the “Steering Committee,” had either been active in organizing the earlier Faire, had attended it (and had wonderful memories of it), or had heard of it and wanted to see it renewed. This resulted in a community event to celebrate community that was again to be a major fundraising tool for diverse, deserving local non-profit, school and community organizations. Each Steering member was willing to work hard, as a volunteer, to see the Faire reborn and continue despite many challenges.
To get it started, the VWC provided seed money, non-profit status, liability insurance, and volunteer help. As the first Faire approached, the Committee put on two major fundraisers for additional seed money, a Luau and a Casino Night. (This continued for several years.) Some members provided personal loans, purchased supplies or donated equipment. The Steering Committee that formed over that first year included Julie Hendriks and Violet (Anna Lieby) Smith (an earlier “Faire kid”) who took on the role of Faire Co-Directors. Excited to be back, Linda Moore (the earlier Faire’s Director, originator and organizer, for the formative first five years) joined in. Vince Waskell (VWC Board President), along with Pam Spehar ( who brought her family annually to the original) and Alicia Kennedy (who brought her family too) were immediately involved the first meetings, along with Bobbi Faulk (artist and volunteer at the original Faire), Dan Henning (with his long family history tied to the SLV), Linda Spalinger (music lover and Blue Grass event promoter), Eric Hammer (Faire “kid” who, as a teenager, worked at the original Faire), Nancy Macy (original Faire organizer and VWC Board Member) and Steven Shabry (who worked at many music festivals, providing delicious food at events across the West). Violet and Eric were among the dozens of “Faire kids” who had grown up going to the earlier Faire while their parents had worked to make it a success -- and were motivated to do the same for the current Faire.
The first year, 2010, the new Redwood Mountain Faire was a single-day event. An amazing success with 11 bands on two stages and dozens of juried arts and crafts booths, an array of children’s activities and other entertainment, along with excellent food, a unique selection of beers from five local micro-breweries and quality wines from three local wineries, the first Faire netted $15,000 for the non-profit beneficiaries whose members helped staff the Faire.
During the second year (now a two-day event with a lower entry fee, featuring 22 bands), the Faire was pounded with heavy rains overnight and during set up and drizzled into the event on Saturday. This was followed by a chilly, cloudy Sunday -- but the show went on! Meadow Stage performances and children’s activities moved inside Bret Harte Hall, but performances continued outside on the Creekside Stage. Sunday, the Meadow performances were still inside, but the weather had improved so more people came, and we opened the sliding doors across the entire side of the Hall so the die-hard audience could watch from the sloping lawn. Thanks to carefully controlled spending, despite far-reduced income, the Faire was still able to cover expenses and provide $5,000 to the non-profits. (The Valley Women’s Club did not accept any funds that year.)
From the third to the eighth year, the Faire continued to grow and improve, Violet took on Director responsibilities and brought in exciting new systems to improve operations and expanded awareness of the event. More people returned year-after-year --- building those wonderful memories as Julie had dreamed of. Thousands have since danced and clapped for dozens of incredibly talented bands, and enjoyed the delightful works of talented artists and artisans. Hundreds of children have found creative and fun activities to enjoy. Thousands of volunteers have provided the complex jobs of operating the Faire, and had a great time too.
Everyone affiliated with the Faire feels profound gratitude to Georgie Clark, and mourned her passing in 2016. Our thanks now go to her daughter, Melani, for enabling the Faire to continue at their most wonderful venue -- the glorious expanse of Roaring Camp, in Felton, with its oak tree studded meadow surrounded by towering redwoods and, of course, the trains and old-time town.
All this has come together to make The Redwood Mountain Faire a wonderful event for the community.
Happily, due to the Steering Committee’s careful planning, hundreds of volunteers, and growing attendance, the Faire has provided almost $300,000, in its first eight years, to over two-dozen local organizations, while maintaining an affordable entry price. And now thousands of visitors have helped make The Redwood Mountain Faire a growing legend.
Welcome to the Faire! We’re glad you came! Have a Wonderful Time!
The “Old Faire”…. A quick look back….
The original “Redwood Mountains Fine Arts & Crafts Faire and Music Festival” ran for 17 years at Highlands County Park, from 1980 through 1996. It was a major project of the Valley Women’s Club and virtually every VWC member helped in some way over the years. It raised well over $300,000 to benefit local non-profit organizations during that time.
The VWC was inspired to undertake an arts fair, when artist Diana Troxell and artisan Linda Moore pointed out the lack of opportunities for local artists and artisans to offer their works to sell in the community. In the first year, it was a one-day event called “The Highlands Fair,” and 25 artists and artisans had booths. In the big house, there was a fine art show and entertainment, including poetry readings and dance performances. Deli sandwiches and home-baked goods were sold along with champagne, raising $300 that first year. The second year, the flat-bed of a truck provided the stage for what became a very popular music festival, including a music competition, thanks to the idea of Rob Solomon who loved the Topanga Canyon Fiddle Festival. The fair, renamed “The Redwood Mountains Fine Arts & Crafts Faire and Folk Music Festival,” was still a one-day event in April. Thanks to more food and beverages, and Supervisor Joe Cucchiara passing a huge hat, it raised $3,000.
With skill and hard work, Linda Moore continued to organize the Faire as a volunteer Director for three more years -- growing it into a major community event and fundraiser. Due to the chilly, misty April weather, the third year it moved to August and expanded to two days. It blossomed with three stages: the Main Stage with both big name and local bands out on the field; the Second Stage where dulcimer, fiddle, guitar and singer/songwriter competitions and other performances took place on the stage in the lawn by the big house; and, a Children’s Stage with special performances located down on the platform by the playground. A Fine Arts Show was featured in the house, and 45 artisans grew to almost 100 artisans, lining the roadway, lawn and field of the Park. For $3 the third year, eventually raised to $10 after a decade, The Faire’s benefit to the community went beyond the event itself, as it became a major fundraising source for several dozen local non-profit and community organizations, whose members shared in the tasks of putting on the Faire.
The Faire continued successfully under the leadership of a series of now-paid Directors, while everyone else involved was still a volunteer.
Thousands of SLV families came to the Faire over the years, celebrating together, as the Faire created wonderful memories and a real sense of community. It was apparently the inspiration for the founders of the Strawberry Festival in the Sierras. Hundreds of “Faire kids” grew up at the Faire while their parents worked to make it a success. By 1995, however, the costs were so high that, while those expenses were covered, there was little net income to offer the non-profits who worked the Faire. With deep regret, the VWC was compelled to discontinue The Faire. Unable to see it stop, a separate group (mostly made up of VWC members) managed to organize a simplified Redwood Faire the next year, but that was the last time, and so it became a thing of memory and legend…… until 2010 when it returned better than ever!
help us raise $350,000 for local charities!
Since its return in 2010, we have raised over $350,000 total ($40,000 alone was raised at last year’s event!) and with your help.
Attendees enjoy 22 bands over the weekend, a meadow filled with booths featuring the work of local artists, and delicious food and drink from Santa Cruz County vendors.
Recognized by the State Assembly and the County of Santa Cruz for our contributions to the well-being of our community, you can be sure your tickets support a good cause in addition to a roaring good time for the whole family!