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April 14, 2024

New festival celebrates Siskiyou Crest

Stein Butte is on the Siskiyou Crest above the the Applegate Valley. Pam Sewall photo
July 11, 2023

‘A Festival of Art, Culture and Science’ runs Friday through Sunday in the Applegate Valley

By Morgan Rothborne, Rogue Valley Times

A new multifaceted festival celebrating a special corner of Southern Oregon is scheduled for this weekend.

The Siskiyou Crest: A Festival of Art, Culture and Science will run from Friday through Sunday, July 14-16, at Pacifica Garden, 14615 Water Gap Road, in Williams. Activities will begin at 10 a.m. each day.

The festival will be filled with opportunities to appreciate the Siskiyou Crest from various dimensions, because this region is exceptionally unique, said Diana Coogle, chair of the festival.

“It’s the second-most botanically diverse place in the United States behind the Great Smoky Mountains. There’s also more diversity of evergreens than any other place in North America. It’s an east-west range, the only one on the West Coast,” Coogle said.

“It has caught all the evolution that comes down from the north and doesn’t go any farther, and all the evolution that comes up from the south and doesn’t go any farther. It also has influences from the desert to the east and the ocean to the west,” she said.

Friday’s schedule reflects the spirit of the festival’s three days — beginning with a native prayer led by a culture-bearing member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, a butterfly walk, guided hikes and field trips, followed by panels on botany and wildlife, poetry readings, keynote speakers such as tree expert Michael Kauffmann and naturalist Justin Garwood, and a live music performance by Windsong.

During the panel discussions on all three days, child care with age-appropriate activities will be available, Coogle said, so parents can enjoy the speakers without fidgety little ones in tow.

The festival came about organically during a meeting of the Siskiyou Crest Coalition.

“Someone suggested we have an art show. I’m a poet, so I said, ‘Well, if we’re going to have art, we should do poetry readings too,’” Coogle said.

The idea continued to grow as the many minds and personalities in the coalition added their own dimensions based on how they appreciate the land, Coogle said. Botanists and scientists should naturally come in to share their appreciation of the unique ecology of the area. Music should be there, and the festival should honor the coalition’s long-working relationships with local tribes.

A landscape scene from Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in the Applegate. Pam Sewall photo

Coogle was particularly elated to say David Rains Wallace, author of “The Klamath Knot,” will be a keynote speaker Sunday. The visual arts displays, meanwhile, will be robust with 27 paintings and photographs, seven textile creations, five sculptures and three continuously looping videos.

The festival is an outgrowth of the Siskiyou Coalition’s efforts to obtain permanent protections for the Siskiyou Crest.

“We’re concerned about proposed logging and other extractive industries. We’re considering our options for permanent protections, be it a wilderness area, a national monument — we’re looking at what would apply best, and we also always want tribal participation,” Coogle said.

The group hopes to find a form of protection with the greatest balance between honoring the desire for access from those who appreciate the land — from tribes with ancestral ties to hikers — and preserving the area for future generations.

Coogle described the outpouring of support as “astonishing,” and even though the festival hasn’t happened yet, many are already eyeing a future for the event.

The festival will include guided hikes, including the Frog Pond Trail in the Red Buttes Wilderness Area. Siskiyou Crest Coalition photo

“People keep asking me, ‘What about next year?’ and I always tell them, ‘We’ll worry about next year, next year,’” she said.

The festival will be mostly indoors with air conditioning. There will also be food carts available on site, and a raffle with all proceeds supporting the efforts of the coalition.

“If we make any money from the festival, all of it will go to the coalition,” she said.

The festival is free to attend, but camping is limited. Sites for RVs are exceptionally limited, Coogle said, and registration for the few spots is required.

To register or learn more about the Siskiyou Crest Coalition or the festival, visit siskiyoucrestcoalition.org/festival.

Reach reporter Morgan Rothborne at mrothborne@rv-times.com. This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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