Newsletter‎ > ‎June 2018‎ > ‎

NSJ Community Center Hosts 123rd Cherry Fest

posted Jun 6, 2018, 11:26 AM by Kristin Snell   [ updated Jun 6, 2018, 11:32 AM ]

by Diana Pasquini, San Juan Ridge Family Resource Center

North San Juan has been the site of an annual Cherry Festival since 1895. Founded by prospector Christian Kientz in 1853, North San Juan’s population grew quickly as men flocked to the area to work in adjacent hydraulic mining operations. The population swelled to several thousand when a flume from mountain lakes ushered in an era of prosperity by providing water to the townsfolk and surrounding mines. The town soon became headquarters for water companies that supplied the mines and water ran above the town in elevated flumes. The end of hydraulic mining in 1884 marked the beginning of a decline in population for the foothill mining town. Over the years three major fires swept through the town, destroying homes and businesses in its path. Resilient then, as now, the town of North San Juan has survived and through boom or bust, fair weather or foul, the Cherry Festival has endured.

“At one time the Cherry Festival was a week long affair. They had rodeos and bronc busting,” explained parade organizer, Sue Bauer. Times may have changed, but folks still flock to North San Juan to join in the festivities on the 4th Saturday in June. Sponsored by the North San Juan Fire Department, the parade begins at the North San Juan Post Office at 10am moving up Highway 49 to the North San Juan Community Center where it makes a u-turn, then travels back down 49 to its point of origin. An abundance of festivities continue throughout the day. There will be music, games, food, vendors, a cake walk, raffle, a pie eating contest, dunk tank, and more.
Not only is the Cherry Festival a long standing community tradition. It is North San Juan Community Center’s major fundraiser of the year. Last year the North San Juan Senior Center officially transitioned into the North San Juan Community Center. The Activities and Improvement Center, previously housed in the neighboring old North San Juan Schoolhouse, has also merged with and strengthened the Community Center. Today, the revitalized organization strives to “provide services, events and programming to enrich and support a thriving, healthy community,” stated NSJCC board member, Shari Brookler. Ongoing events include a Spring Garden Party, Easter Egg Hunt, autumn Harvest Stew, a weekly Tuesday lunch, movie nights and seasonal potlucks. The Community Center also hosts Nevada County Food Bank’s monthly distributions, weekly traveling veterinary services, and a voting center. In addition to a children’s playground and a beautiful community garden, the facility includes a commercial kitchen and a freshly painted hall that are available to rent. Plans for the future include a farmers’ market and classes based on community interest. Funds raised at this year’s festival will “keep our doors open,” said Brookler, issuing an invitation to one and all. “Come have fun with your neighbors at a community gathering!”

The North San Juan Community Center is located at 29190 State Highway 49, North San Juan. For more info on NSJCC activities or facility rentals call Avani at 480-993-6487.