Indian Valley Near Taylorsville, California - photo: Ken Lund, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

At the western end of the Indian Valley is the community of Greenville, California. Eight miles to the southeast, at the other end of the valley, is the town of Taylorsville. Last week, the Dixie Fire burned the community of Greenville to the ground. Taylorsville was spared, but as of this writing, the Dixie Fire is menacing Taylorsville, which is under a mandatory evacuation order.

Since the late 1990s, Taylorsville and the scenic Indian Valley have been known to many for the Solar Cook-Off and Music Festival that drew ever-larger crowds from it’s beginning in 1992 until the organizers at Blackhawk Solar company retired from producing the event in 2012. 

Food from an armada of solar ovens and performances of live music on two stages with dancing in the historic Taylorsville Hall, complete with a spring-loaded dance floor, imbued the annual event with a vibrancy and quirkiness that endures as a modern-day California rural legend. The focus on energy independence and environmental awareness established an essential emphasis on forward-thinking environmental stewardship.

The Sierra Institute for Community and the Environment has been based in Taylorsville since the late 1990s. When Moorea Stout was brought on to be director of development, the group looked for apt ideas to raise funds and awareness and decided to bring back the Solar Cook-Off along with their nonprofit’s message of rural economic development in consort with healthy forest management practices. 

The ForestFest Solar Cook-Off and Music Festival was originally planned for August 27 and 28 but is now scheduled for September 17 and 18 in Taylorsville, though the situation as of this writing is fluid with the Dixie fire raging around the Indian Valley. 

Should the 2021 ForestFest occur, the event will raise funds for fire recovery in Greenville and other affected areas.

“The community might just need an event like this,” said Stout.

For more on the timely work of the Sierra Institute for Community and the Environment and the 2021 ForestFest and Solar Cook-Off, we spoke with Moorea Stout by phone. Stout lives in Crescent Mills in the Indian Valley but spoke to us by phone from San Francisco. 

Explore the Indian Valley and the status of structures with the interactive map below.