Wakamatsu branches out
JOURNALIST RYUSUKE KAWAI, of Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, left, holds a vase as Rumiko Meguro, of Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, prepares to place flowers on Okei's grave at the Wakamatsu Festival in Placerville on May 18. Meguro works to preserve Okei's history, both in the United States and Japan. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene
Connecting new generations to the land, the third annual Wakamatsu Farm Festival reached out to new audiences on May 18 by celebrating all the diverse groups that have populated the historic site.
Acquired by the American River Conservancy in 2010, the 272 acre Gold Hill Ranch is notable for the many groups who have called it home. In the past, the focus was on its use as the first permanent Japanese settlement in North America. However, according to Michael Dotson, Director of Development and Communications for the American River Conservancy, this year's festival was designed to be different.
"Our vision is to educate people on the diverse cultures in the area to bring in a wider audience and connect them to the land," he said.
In line with that goal, spread out over the ranch were four venues reflecting the four main groups that lived on and drew their sustenance from the land. Trooping from staging area to staging area on Saturday were an estimated 700 people who traveled by foot, in buggies and covered wagons, or in golf carts across the grass and oak-studded landscape to sample the culture of each group.
The venue pertaining to the earliest residents went to the Miwok and Nisenan Indians ...