May 29, 2014

Livingston festival turns 10

This weekend, Livingston will host the 10th Annual Pick and Gather at Riverdance Farms, Merced River Fair and Pow wow, which could draw about 2,000 to the area.

Now a decade old, a festival that celebrates the Merced River, farming and more could draw as many as 2,000 visitors to Livingston this weekend.

The two-day Pick and Gather at Riverdance Farms and Merced River Fair begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday. It offers an array of attractions: live music, kayaking, fly fishing, cultural dancing, camping and fruit picking, to name a few. The festival included a powwow for the first time last year and it returns this weekend.

Riverdance Farms is at 12230 Livingston Cressey Road in Livingston. Farm owner Cindy Lashbrook said turnout has likely doubled since it first began 10 years ago.

She said the offerings are fun and appropriate for all ages and families. She also stressed that the day is meant to educate visitors about merging farming with environmental stewardship. “It’s about local food, local businesses and farming in harmony with what’s here,” she said.

Visitors can pick organic cherries and blueberries while local bluegrass musicians play. Other plans include hay rides; farm and garden activities for kids; food; artwork; three stages with live entertainment; and farm tours. The offerings are spread out across about 30 acres of the farm, Lashbrook said.

Keeping with the theme of coexisting with the land’s original inhabitants, Lashbrook said she was glad to be able to add a Native American powwow to the schedule last year.

Mike Hermann, who is organizing this year’s powwow, said it’s a social gathering filled with traditional dance, music, art and regalia. A member of the Shawnee nation, he said the powwow will be intertribal and open to anyone.

“It’s an opportunity for us to show a little bit of our culture, our songs and drumming and dancing,” he said.

Merced County was home to the Yokut people before colonists came to the area.

Hermann stressed that all of the arts and crafts for sale at the festival will be authentic.

The weather will likely be friendly to those looking to spend the weekend outside. The National Weather Service is predicting a partly cloudy Saturday and mostly sunny Sunday, with highs in the low 80s for both days.

Cost for the festival ranges from $2 to $15 depending on age and whether visitors intend to camp Saturday night. For more information on the festival, go to www.riverdancefarms.com.

Proceeds from the festival go to Merced River cleanup and educational efforts.

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