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The Territorial Dispatch
September 18, 1996

For me the Prune Festival has crossed the threshold...

For me the Prune Festival has crossed the threshold... from annual festival to tradition. The euphoric disposition of the people make it great... the people who volunteer their time, the people who are paid to perform and do other duties, the people who come to enjoy... all have special attitudes... relaxed and carefree... if only for the day.

Is it the music? The crisp purple and white decor? The (almost always) perfect weather? Is it because you usually see someone you haven't seen in ages? Or have time to sit and chat with someone you never have much time to visit with on busy work days? Whatever it is it's wonderful!

Almost everyone stretches their comfort zone to taste something made of prunes. And everyone wears a smile... well everyone except the man who stopped me and abruptly asked where I had gotten my pink shopping bag. I pointed out the Sunsweet location and said if he only wanted the bag he wouldn't have to wait in the line.

The woman he was with told me, apologetically, that he wanted to leave already and they had just gotten there. I couldn't help but wonder if there was someone at the exit not letting folks leave unless they had a bright pink shopping bag!

I hope Sunsweet appreciates the marketing genius that thought up that pink shopping bag idea. There must have been 15,000 of us marching about advertising for them! And all of us seemingly happy to do it!

Maybe it's the Jazz that makes the festival great. Jazz itself is great... three to six, or eight, musicians on a stage with instruments. They begin by a discussion among themselves until they can decide on the beat... then they all play whatever they want to. This actually sounds good, as long as they all stick with the chosen beat.

During each number they take turns playing individually while the others stand aside and make funny faces at each other, at the player, and at the audience. The result is some really toe-tapping tunes that, as often as not, sound almost like something you may have heard before.

The Prune Festival features many kinds of music, entertainment and displays. There's always something for everyone.

If your partner isn't the type that likes to browse the art colony, investigate the prune pavilion or shop the craft booths you just park 'em at one of the entertainment stages and make the rounds yourself! No Problem. You can hear music almost everywhere.

I am totally fascinated with the Buddhist Church's Taiko drummers. They are really fantastic. I would like to be in the group... and they said if anyone was interested in joining they should talk to them after the performance. Anybody, any age, any background can become a part of this energetic group. But, when they finished, I needed to hustle up to the Celebrity Chef stage to see Johnny Ciao cook, while playing the harmonica to the accompaniment of Lee and Curt's son, Michael, playing his guitar.

I loved the displays of old trucks, old tractors and old motorcycles. But, to me, the most awesome of all the displays on the grounds was the huge 16 foot x 6 foot photograph of the Sutter Buttes!!!

The photograph was done by Vanessa Helder. The panoramic view was used by project chair Ellie Cary as a backdrop for the Sutter County booth at the California State Fair this year. I hadn't gotten down there to see it, but it would have been worth the trip. It is AWESOME! ...And it's almost life-size!

It is actually a photograph printed from an 8 x 10 inch negative on a single sheet of photographic paper 16 x 6 feet. If you've ever had the experience of developing prints by sloshing them around in a shallow tray full of developer in a darkroom you have to be awed by the magnitude of this project.

Every element of the project is key. First you must have the world's smallest mountain range in your backyard. Then you have to have an eye for balance, lighting, content, framing, etc., and an acute feel for aesthetics. Next you need a big Ansel Adams format camera and click! With that done, you send your film off (not to the local drugstore) and tell them you want the quintessential 'snapshot'!

But first of all you need the imagination to dream it up and the knowledge to know it can be done. Vanessa has that. She knows her craft. She is an artist.

Quote of the week:
For the mystic what is how. For the craftsman how is what. For the artist what and how are one.
&emdash;William McElcheran

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