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Students learn event management, sustainability, service at the Lost Sierra Hoedown

Andre Chevalier, Reporter

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A chorus of rain transcended the tin roof of a lodge filled with eager listeners. Inside, musical frequencies reverberated within the walls, carrying sound into the night. The Lost Sierra Hoedown was a late-September weekend filled with music, dancing, camping, sustainable practices and community engagement—and for some, the chance to earn college credit while clapping, stomping, drinking beer, and having fun.

“When you’re at the Hoedown, you automatically make friends just by going,” SNC junior Mikaila Smith said. “There are always people just hanging out around the campfire playing music and having a good time.” 

The Lost Sierra Hoedown isn’t a music festival; it’s a family-friendly hoedown, or “community dancing party accompanied by lively fiddle music,” according to the event website. It’s also a class offered at SNC every fall semester and taught by Drew Fisher, an SNC alumni who started the event as part of his interdisciplinary service learning project.

“SNC gave me the chance to do something real while being able to use resources from all of their departments to support my project and make it happen,” Fisher said. “We truly believe that by taking the Lost Sierra Hoedown class, students can learn a lot about putting on an event.”

Proceeds from Fisher’s four-day camping and music event benefit the Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl, Plumas Ski Club, and Plumas Eureka State Park. The fundraiser is intended to help “keep skiing alive” at Johnsville Historic Ski Bowl, home of the historic Longboard Revival Race Series, in which skiers dressed in late 1800s clothing race downhill on “Norway skates” or 12-foot-long wooden skis.

The one-credit course takes two weekends to complete. Two weeks before the Hoedown, students visit Johnsville to see the property in its pre-event state while getting the rundown on how the Hoedown functions. During the event, students work at various positions, including stage management, parking lot logistics, and “green team” waste management.   

For junior McKenna Bean, the Lost Sierra Hoedown was her first ever multi-day music event. “Volunteering has been awesome because you get to meet everybody,” she said.

Bean worked at several jobs, including helping the music performers lug their gear from the parking lot, greeting patrons at the box office, and handing trash and recycling.

“Everyone at the Hoedown was super into sustainability,” she said. “During my green team shift, everyone was pumped to deal with the trash.”

Senior Dave Wadleigh enrolled in the Hoedown class in previous years, but this fall, he attended the event as an intern. “I ran the box office this year, which acted like a micro business,” Wadleigh said. “If you take the class seriously, it’s an unmatched learning opportunity that gives you real life experience.”

Senior Kyle Simper also took part in the event. “The Hoedown class doesn’t feel like you’re in school getting credit. The staff makes sure that you still get to enjoy the experience of going to a music event,” he said.

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